At least 100 elephants have died in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park, the country's largest national park, due to a lack of water amidst extreme drought conditions worsened by climate change.
The elephants perished as the vital water sources in the park dried up, forcing the animals, especially the young, elderly and sick, to walk long distances searching for water. Many succumbed due to dehydration and starvation.
Conservation groups like the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) raised the alarm about the distressing situation faced by the over 45,000 elephants in Hwange National Park.
As per the park authorities, there are around 100 solar-powered boreholes operational currently to maintain water sources for the wildlife. However, these are proving to be inadequate, considering the intensity of the drought and heatwave conditions.
The deaths of over 100 elephants due to dehydration and starvation in Hwange is an indicator of the grievous impact of climate change, evident in the form of erratic rainfalls, long dry spells and weather extremes like El Nino.
El Nino is the climatic phenomenon that warms up the Pacific Ocean's certain parts, consequently affecting global weather patterns. Studies show climate change seems to result in intense El Nino events, causing dreadful repercussions.
In Hwange National Park, there has been a recent period of elevated temperatures and scarcity of rainfall. The weather forecasts also point to a dry, sweltering summer ahead.
Hwange does not have a major river flowing through it and majorly depends on solar-powered boreholes, around 100 in number, to pump up groundwater for animals.
However, these solar-powered boreholes struggle to match the intensity of the temperatures and provide water to thousands of animals residing in the park. An average adult elephant itself needs about 200 liters of water daily for its survival.
With water sources drying up, the animals are forced to walk greater distances in search of water, leading to fatalities among the young, old and unwell elephants.