A grueling two-year drought in Kenya has wiped out 2% of the world’s rarest zebra species and increased elephant deaths as well, as the climate crisis takes its toll on the east African nation’s wildlife.
Animal carcasses rotting on the ground – including giraffes and livestock – have become a common sight in northern Kenya, where unprecedented dry spells are chipping away at already depleted food and water resources.
The Grevy Zebra, the world’s rarest of the zebra species, has been the worst hit species by the drought. The drought is also worsening poaching for bushmeat, which has risen among pastoralist communities in the north as the drought impacts other sources of income.
In some areas, Grevy’s zebras are being poached in grazing reserves. “The drought has led to increased poaching of Grevy’s zebra due to large numbers of livestock converging on grazing reserves,” Mackey said. “This has led to inter-ethnic conflict (sometimes animals get caught in crossfire) and poaching, as herders resort to living off wildlife.”
Human-wildlife conflict has also fueled the killing of dozens of elephants that are forced to come in close contact with humans as they chase shrinking sources of food and water, said Pope of Save the Elephants.