The country has recorded 179 elephant deaths due to the ongoing drought in the last eight months alone.
Climate change has become a bigger threat to elephant lives than poaching, according to Kenya’s Wildlife and Tourism ministry.
Kenya’s droughts have been so devastating that Tsavo National Park – one of the largest parks in the world – has recorded the death of 179 elephants in the last eight months alone.
Meanwhile poaching has killed less than 10 animals during the same timeframe.
“It is a red alarm,” Cabinet Secretary for Tourism (CS), Najib Balala said.
“The time is ripe to discuss climate change.”
Climate change impact
The region has been experiencing four consecutive seasons of poor rains, which has caused rivers and water pans to run dry and grasslands have shriveled as well.
According to the UN, the Horn of Africa is experiencing the worst drought in 40 years, which has impacted some 15 million people across Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.
Moreover, three million livestock have died as many areas face a severe shortage of food and water.
BBC footage taken in December 2021 showed dead giraffes and dead cattle, while herders reported losses of up to 70% of their livestock.
Steps to tackle climate crisis
Following a global analysis of threatened species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List has added the African savanna elephant to the endangered list,
According to the group poaching, habitat loss and extreme weather such as droughts are mainly responsible for the declining numbers.
In order to address climate change threats on wildlife, the Kenyan government has developed the National Wildlife Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2022-2032, which is based on building resilient ecosystems and establishing a framework that outlines actions for ensuring coordination, effective implementation and sustainability of wildlife conservation in the country. Furthermore, the program aims to educate and engage the public in recognizing the value of wildlife and embracing their role in its conservation.
Balala also noted that although illegal poaching of elephants for ivory has declined, Kenya still needs to undergo “a paradigm shift on what is the new dimension of addressing conservation in Africa.”
“it is important to enhance conservation to address the biodiversity crisis by protecting 30% of the world’s terrestrial and marine habitats by 2030,” the CS said.
“It is important to conserve at least 30% of the planet’s lands and waters by 2030 as we are facing a huge population in Africa, and therefore we need to balance conservation, economic development, and community interest.”
Speaking at the IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) – the first-ever continent-wide gathering of African leaders, citizens, and interest groups- Balala stressed on the need to focus on people if conservation strategies were to succeed.
“If we don’t do that, we shall lose the goodwill of the people in conservation,” he said.
“Human-wildlife conflict is real and directly affects our people. We cannot address the issue of compensation, as well as stopping the impact of elephant destruction in farms and deaths if the communities are not involved,” he added.
Share this story: Climate change is killing 20 times more elephants in Kenya than poachers.
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