Zimbabwe says 200 elephants have now died amid drought - GulfToday

Zimbabwe says 200 elephants have now died amid drought

A dead elephant lays in the Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe/ AP.

More than 200 elephants have died due to severe drought, Zimbabwe's parks agency said on Tuesday.

In order to ease the congestion, a mass relocation of animals is planned.

Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesman Tinashe Farawo said at least 200 elephants have died in vast Hwange National Park alone since October and other parks are affected.

Aside Elephants, giraffes, buffalo and impala are also dying, the situation can only improve after the rains return, said the spokesman.

"Almost every animal is being affected," he said. "Of course, elephants are easily noticed during patrols or game drives, but some bird species are seriously affected because they can only breed in certain tree heights and those trees are being knocked down by elephants."

A lot of the animals are going into nearby communities to search for food and water. According to the parks agency, 33 people have died from conflict with animals in 2019.

The agency said it plans to move 600 elephants, two prides of lions and other animals from the Save Valley Conservancy in the southeast to less congested parks. A pack of wild dogs, 50 buffalo, 40 giraffe and 2,000 impalas also will be relocated, Farawo said.

The animals "have exceeded their ecological carrying capacity," he said. "If the populations go unchecked, the animals will threaten the very ecosystem they depend on for survival."

Zimbabwe has an estimated 85,000 elephants, second only to neighboring Botswana with more than 130,000.

Zimbabwe says it is struggling to cope with booming numbers of wild elephants and wants to be allowed to sell its ivory stockpile and export live elephants to raise money for conservation and ease congestion in the drought-affected parks.

The country exported 101 elephants between 2016 and this year, mainly to China and the United Arab Emirates, raising more than $3 million for conservation efforts, according to the parks agency.

Associated Press.