The Horn of Africa is Parched amid Worst Drought, Sixth Failed Rainy Season
Thousands of animals died and escalating man-animal conflicts were reported as the region is facing a sixth consecutive dry spell
Climate change is as real as air – we feel it all around us. All of us know what will happen if we fail to address this crisis. Anyhow, we are failing miserably, and developing nations, which are the least responsible for birthing this calamity, are bearing the brunt of nature. The Horn of Africa is going through a severe drought that has killed thousands of animals in Kenya, increased human-wildlife conflicts, and pushed 22 million people to hunger throughout Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.
The region has experienced a fifth consecutive year with below-average rains on record, making it the longest and severest drought in the last 70 years of rainfall data. The drought has affected every living being in the eastern part of the Horn of Africa. According to United Nations’ World Food Program report, 12 million people in Ethiopia, 5.6 million in Somalia and 4.3 million in Kenya are facing severe food insecurity due to the prolonged drought.
Inhabitants in the most afflicted areas depend on herding and subsistence farming for livelihood. However, the biting drought has created a deadly lack of water and pasture, driving 1.7 million people away from their homes. The drought has also forced elephants and other wild animals to wander into human settlements in search of food and water, causing violent conflicts.
41-year-old David Leiyan from Samburu East in northern Kenya said;
Wild animals now roam here freely. You can hardly walk a kilometre before seeing one or two. I just survived an elephant attack a week ago and have lost livestock to wild animals.
His 33 sheep and goats were killed by wild animals at night. There have been cases of lions and leopards wandering into residential areas in Nairobi and places around Nairobi National Park or Tsavo National Park. Experts say that a lack of sufficient food and water in the wild for animals due to the drought has led them to roam into human settlements.
Pois Lenabori, a chief in Samburu East in Kenya said that human-wildlife conflicts in Kenya are on the rise. He said;
Cases of marauding elephants killing locals are now common. I have had to call officials from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on several occasions to recapture stray elephants, buffalo, lions, hyenas roaming freely as they search for food and water and wreak havoc in villages.
Uganda is also experienced similar circumstances. Animal attacks have increased in the Tororo district near the Kenya-Uganda border. While carnivore animals like lions escaped from parks are attacking livestock, big animals like elephants and hippopotamuses are destroying farms and crops.
People in parts of Ethiopia and Somalia are forced to take shelter inside homes during the day to save themselves from wild animals wandering around for food and water.
Kenya Wildlife Service said in a statement;
KWS takes this opportunity to notify the public that the ongoing dry spell is displacing wildlife from their habitats in search of pasture and water. This has increased human-wildlife conflict as the wildlife comes into contact with members of the public and human activities.
The ongoing dry spell is a result of a combination of human-induced climate change and La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which has caused reduced rainfall in eastern Africa. As La Niña conditions are expected to stay a little longer, experts believe that the Horn of Africa will have a failed wet season from March to May this year. It has, in turn, caused a worsening humanitarian crisis in the region.
Via: Down to Earth