AT least 55 elephants have died in the country’s largest national park — Hwange National Park due to starvation caused by severe drought.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Mr Tinashe Farawo confirmed the deaths and said more jumbos could succumb to the drought.
“The situation is dire as elephants are dying from starvation and this is a big problem. We are desperately in need of water.
“However, these animals perished near waterholes dotted around the Hwange National Park, which is a sign they travelled long distances to access water,” said Mr Farawo.
He said preliminary investigations had pointed out that at least 55 elephants had died due to lack of food.
“We are still carrying out investigations, but we are certain that at least 55 elephants have died from lack of food and water in the park, which holds the biggest elephant herd,” said Mr Farawo.
He said the national park’s elephant population was about 50 000 and the large number was causing havoc in Hwange, as the animals are now forced to forage for food at nearby villages, causing human-wildlife conflict.
More than 200 people have died from elephant attacks in the past five years, according to Zimparks.
Mr Farawo said the agency has been planning to provide the elephants with more water by drilling boreholes in Hwange because the existing ones have run dry.
“There are plans of drilling more boreholes in the park to provide sustenance to the elephants but we are faced with a huge problem, which is lack of funds,” said Mr Farawo. Sunday News