Monday, July 16, 2012

Jumbos in danger as water shortage looms at Hwange National Park

BULAWAYO — The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has warned that dozens of elephants at Hwange National Park could die from thirst due to a shortage of water, as available wells continue to dry up. The authority is now seeking funds to buy at least 20 000 litres of diesel to pump water, between now and the rainy season. The water would be pumped to elephant drinking points in the park to avert a repeat of the 2011 scenario when close to 80 animals died of thirst between June and October, resulting in a loss of US$4 million. Hwange National Park has no year-round rivers and little natural surface water and therefore depends on wells that pump water to artificial watering holes, known as pans. Caroline Washaya-Moyo, the ZimParks public relations manager, said the authority was sourcing for funds and engaging interested stakeholders in a bid to ensure that wildlife would not be lost due to shortages of water. “The ever-increasing temperatures last year left wildlife succumbing to heat,” Washaya-Moyo said. “In terms of the value of elephants that we lost in 2011, it is calculated using the compensation value of an elephant, pegged at US$20 000 in 2011 and has since been reviewed upwards in 2012 to US$50 000. “This applies to all categories, be it a calf, adult or sub-adult.” Watering holes and other sources of water that are fed through pumping, dried up last year, resulting in the alarming rate of deaths of elephants. Currently, Hwange National park has an elephant population of over 45 000 against its carrying capacity of 30 000, putting a severe strain on available resources, especially water. Source: The Standard (Zimbabwe)

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