Zimbabwe

Zim weighs cost of too many elephants

2012-10-23 07:50

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Special Report

Lesotho 'coup' a test for Mugabe – reports
Lesotho 'coup' a test for Mugabe – reports

Zimbabwean media reports that the attempted coup in Lesotho gives President Robert Mugabe, who is the new Southern African Development chair, his first test in dealing with coups.

Hwange - A herd of elephants hobbles past a cluster of acacia trees to a water-hole deep in Zimbabwe's vast Hwange game reserve, attracted by the drone of generators pumping water round the clock into the pool.

With the elephant population ballooning, wildlife authorities have resorted to using 45 generators, each consuming 200 litres of diesel a week from June to November, to ensure the animals can get water.

The strategy appears to be working. So far this year around 17 elephants have died in the area due to the extreme heat and lack of water, compared to 77 last year.

"The elephants drink close to 90% of all the water [pumped] here," said Edwin Makuwe, an ecologist with the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority,

"I think elephants now know that when they hear an engine running, chances are that there is water close by."

But the water, while life-preserving, may be running against the flow of nature.

The 14 600-square-kilometre reserve is home to between 35 000 to 40 000 elephants, twice its capacity.

The increase in the elephant population has led to higher demand for water at the park, home to over 100 different species of animals including the "Big Five": elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and the endangered rhinoceros.

Makuwe said the rise in the elephant population at the game reserve, established in 1949, had also led to the destruction of the environment.

Negative effect

"There is so much activity by the elephants that the vegetation has been affected negatively, the trees are no longer growing as fast as they should."

"[The trees] are no longer producing as many seeds as they should. In the long term this will have a negative effect on the entire habitat of Hwange."

He said the quality of the forage had gone down, with elephants stripping tree barks and digging roots for food.

"The African savannah is supposed to be a mosaic of trees and grasses. The moment you start to have more grasslands than trees it is not functioning as African savannah."

Makuwe fears small animals and insects who live in the trees risk extinction.

"If you lose the trees and you are left with the grasslands, then definitely some of the species will be lost," he said.

The authorities are yet to find a solution.

"Some people advocate to let nature take its course ... [but] we are yet to find a method which can convince all the people to accept and bring down the [elephant] population," Makuwe added.

With tourists, who have shunned the country over the years, slowly returning, there is little incentive to cull the main attraction.

In the meantime, Tom Milliken, of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said elephants in Hwange were suffering greatly due to the water shortages.

"This is the worst time of the year for elephants and we still have a month before the rains come," he told AFP. "Elephants have most stress this time of the year when there is no water."

- AFP

Read more on:    world wildlife fund  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa  |  conservation  |  animals
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
12 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Travel

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is an emphasis on work. There may be some restrictions, or delays or extra responsibilities. It is all about rhythm and...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.