Drought disaster update


Born Free reports on a continuing crisis for wild animals and local people in Kenya, as a devastating drought, the worst in decades, continues to grip eastern Africa.

Back in August, Born Free, together with many other international organisations, sounded the alarm bell for the dire drought across the Horn of Africa. The drought, which is the longest drought affecting Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya in at least 40 years, has had devastating impacts on people and the environment. 

Born Free runs three major conservation programmes in Kenya aimed at helping people and wildlife coexist. Kenya is home to more than 56 million people and some of the most highly threatened species on the planet, including two of Born Free’s flagship species, the African lion and the African savannah elephant.

The Wildlife Research and Training Institute, Kenya, has recently released a new report detailing the devastating impacts the drought has had on some of the most biodiverse places on our planet. Hundreds of animals, including 205 elephants, 512 wildebeests, 381 common zebras, 51 buffalos, 49 Grevy’s zebras and 12 giraffes in the past nine months have died in Kenyan wildlife protected areas, according to the report, titled: ‘The Impact of the Current Drought on Wildlife in Kenya’, published in November.

“The Amboseli ecosystem has been brutally hit by the drought,” explains Born Free’s Conservation Manager Penny Banham. “Animals are struggling to stay on their feet, all life zapped from them by the unrelenting aridity. Reports of elephant calves simply lying down, weak and malnourished, never to get back up, their mothers in extreme distress at the life or death decisions they have to make, are devastating. Partners across the ecosystem are doing their best to rescue as many individuals as possible, but the needs are great.”

In the last two weeks, there has been some rain in Amboseli, although not enough for the landscape to recover. That could take several years. But we are dedicated to doing everything we can to help rebuild Kenya’s wild places.

David Manoa, Born Free’s Pride of Amboseli Manager said, “It is devastating to lose our precious wildlife, as well as communities’ livestock and livelihoods, due to prolonged droughts in the Amboseli ecosystem, in a year when the world leaders are discussing climate change. There isn’t much time for such discussions; now is the time to act, as demonstrated by massive deaths of some of the most resilient species such as wildebeest, zebra and Maasai livestock. Unless urgent innovative and practical measures are put in place to mitigate recurrent extreme droughts, the future of wildlife, livestock and people’s wellbeing remain uncertain.”

With your support, Born Free will continue to do everything we can to support local people and wild animals in our charity’s heartland of Kenya. To find out more about the impacts of climate change in Kenya and around the world, read our brand new Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss page. You can also adopt our elephant family based in Amboseli, which will help these animals through the drought.

Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss