2% of the world’s rarest zebras wiped out in Kenya’s relentless drought
MADEN, Kenya (AP) — The rain has come and gone. But the African animals have hardly moved aside in a lush corner of Kenya’s Maasai Mara national park, where animals including giraffes, hippos, rhinoceros and hyenas have been missing for months to come.
With two months left before the world’s driest on record, the park and an adjacent region on the edge of the Mara River have been hit with a catastrophic drought that’s been described by some as the most severe on record.
The animals have hardly moved aside in their vast grasslands, where more than 40 percent of the land used to be covered in water. Many of those animals, including giraffes, antelopes and zebras, are so sensitive to drought that their bodies stop growing when it threatens to cause them to die.
With a third of Africa’s giraffes already lost to the effects of the “worst drought to hit Africa in a century,” conservationists say the situation is dire and could be the worst in decades.
“There is no water, absolutely no water, so there is nothing to drink for them,” said David O’Connor, head of the Kenya Wildlife Service. “We need to get them out of the bush before they die.”
The wildlife agency’s director, Daniel Cheron, called the loss of this wildlife country a “national tragedy.”
“We’ve got a critical drought situation that could go on for years, decades, maybe generations,” he said. “It’s too harsh a situation to live in, but it’s too harsh a situation to be in.”
On the edge of the Mara River, which feeds the Maasai Mara park and the towns of Mbita and Jirapa, there is a cluster of giraffes that have been surviving on the river’s grassy banks.
These two, a female named Kipu who died in November and a young male named Hukumure