Water has been running dry in recent years in Zimbabwe national parks and farms, as the excessive heat generated by the El Nino’s weather phenomenon took its toll on the troubled Southern African nation, exterminating thousands of wild and domesticated animals.
More than 28 000 cattle are believed to have died as of March 2016, while 620 Cape buffaloes were killed in 2015 alone, according to government figures.
Drought also claimed the lives of at least 80 elephants in 2012, statistics from Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (PWMA) show. Zimbabwe is home to thousands of wild animals including zebras, rhinos, lions, and about 84 000 elephants.
The government, which has reportedly sold more than 100 elephants to China at US$40 000 each, said the move was meant to save them from drought and hunger, and address the over-population problem.
But critics disagree, saying the state is using over-population as an excuse to sell animals to settle its mounting debts, while neglecting to invest in water facilities at the Hwange National Park.
UK-based Guardian recently quoted the country’s park and wildlife authorities as blaming the collapse of the network of diesel-powered water pumps, boreholes and pipelines that used to supply the watering pans in Hwange on the withdrawal of US and EU donor support.
Western countries apparently made this decision to vehemently protest against Mugabe’s violent farm expropriation in 2000.
Photo: An elephant collapses and dies of heat stroke in a drinking drain at Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Credit: Guardian UK/Bhejane Trust