At least 55 elephants have died in Zimbabwe within four weeks. The animals were dying due to drought and hunger, said Zimbabwean National Park spokesman Tinashe Farawo.
In Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe's largest wildlife sanctuary, the effects of drought are particularly devastating. But a problem is also the last grown population. The park is designed for 15,000 elephants, but harbors more than 50,000 of the animals, said Farawo. The water is scarce: "We are desperately waiting for rain."
The United Nations warned of the dramatic consequences of the drought on the population. The UN estimates that more than 5.5 million people in the crisis-hit state of Zimbabwe will no longer have access to sufficient food at the turn of the year. Already that applies to more than 3.5 million people. Among the reasons include the consequences of the cyclone "Idai", which devastated parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi at harvest time.
There are also problems with hungry and thirsty elephants. It often happens that the animals, in search of food, cross the boundaries of the parks and enter settlements. According to Farawo, over the past five years, 200 people have been killed in such incidents and at least 7,000 hectares of land have been destroyed.
Zimbabwe and a number of other African countries are calling for a loosening of a worldwide ivory trade ban to reduce the number of animals and the risk to humans and their crops.