Elephants and buffaloes in Zimbabwe’s largest national park have been migrating to neighboring Botswana for several weeks due to a lack of water, Zimbabwean authorities said Monday, warning of the dangers of migration.
“Many animals are leaving Hwange National Park for neighboring Botswana,” Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) spokesperson Tinashe Farawo told French news agency France-Presse (AFP), warning that displacement could increase confrontations with humans.
“I cannot give the exact number of elephants that have moved, it could be hundreds or thousands, but, in any case, there are many,” lamented Farawo, who recalled that this forced migration began in August.
Wildlife migration from Hwange to Botswana is not an unusual phenomenon, but this year it has come earlier, the spokesperson said, explaining that natural waterholes are drying up earlier than usual due to lack of rain.
“The animals are looking for water and food, and they are not just elephants and buffaloes, they are all types of animals in the park,” he pointed out, ensuring that “the number of animals that migrate has clearly increased in recent years due to the growing scarcity of water.” .
In his opinion, this massive movement of wild animals will probably provoke new confrontations with man: “More animals will invade communities as people compete with them for water.“.
Since last year, there have been several clashes between elephants and buffaloes and the inhabitants of the villages neighboring Hwange Park. According to the government, at least 60 people were killed by elephants last year, and the number is rising.
Zimbabwe has around 100,000 elephants, almost doubles the capacity of its parks, according to those responsible for park conservation. Botswana, with 130,000 specimens, is home to the largest number of elephants in the world.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) classified southern Africa, a region that includes Mozambique and Angola, as a region at risk of extreme heat and reduced precipitation as a result of global warming.
Hwange Park, in western Zimbabwe, covers 14,600 km2, approximately half the area of the Alentejo, and is home to some 50,000 pachyderms, as well as many other animals.