2% of the world’s rarest zebras wiped out in Kenya’s relentless drought. In September, I visited several national parks in East Africa to learn about the devastating impacts of the drought, and to meet a group of conservationists who are working to reverse the trend. They told me about the desperate needs for food, water, shelter and education in this part of the world, and the devastating impacts of the drought on people’s lives and livelihoods.
The East African country of Kenya is the first to have been badly hit by the famine of 2011. In September, I visited four national parks in the area, in the hope of learning first-hand about the impact of this devastating drought on people’s lives and livelihoods.
In the beginning of December, there will be a huge event to mark the end of the drought. I took the opportunity to go visit two other national parks in the area, where there is a greater likelihood of seeing elephants.
As well as the elephants, there are other wildlife that is also impacted by the drought, which is why the parks and the people working there have been invited to the celebrations.
The national park where I visited, the Masai Mara, the home to one of the world’s greatest concentrations of lions, lost almost a third of its elephants to the drought. More than 800 of the animals have been killed by starvation or disease since February 1. They are now in need of food, water and veterinary medical help and the Masai Mara park is one of the few places in the world where you can get a direct glimpse of the animals’ lives.
The other national park, the Gombe Stream National Park, is now seeing the highest rates of elephant deaths in the world. Nearly 150 elephants have died since February, many of them from stomach cancer.
There, a group of park rangers are trying to save the last elephants in Gombe by turning them into water buffaloes, which is much less stressful and less expensive than trying to find a new home for the animals.
As well as my role of photographer for the BBC, I also lead the group of photographers who are documenting the wildlife of East Africa. Here we meet one of the lions we have seen at the Masai Mara and another we were to meet in Gombe.