Illegal ivory poaching once posed a significant threat to Kenya’s elephants. But now the giants of the animal kingdom are facing an even bigger risk: climate change.
As Kenya battles its worst drought in four decades, the crisis is killing 20 times more elephants than poaching.
To survive, elephants require vast landscapes for foraging. Adults can consume 300 pounds (136kg) of food and more than 50 gallons (189 litres) of water a day. But rivers, soil and grassland are drying up, resulting in a barren and deadly environment.
In the last year, at least 179 elephants have died of thirst, whereas poaching has claimed the lives of fewer than 10, Kenyan Tourism and Wildlife Secretary Najib Balala told the BBC. “It is a red alarm,” he said of the crisis.
The carcasses of giraffes, goats, camels and droves of cattle have also been found in villages after starving to death in northern Kenya.