Lowvelder (South Africa)
Ike Phaahla, general manager of communications of the KNP, confirmed that these elephants had managed to escape.
“Due to the park rangers’ quick reaction all six animals were driven back to the park.”
Phaahla described the extremely dry period as a “natural way of regulating wildlife populations”. He said unfortunately drought or very dry conditions are nature’s way to reset itself.
“Usually it is the grazers and browsers that suffer the most.”
And while the park’s management may make water available to animals in severe parts of the park, they do not plan any major intervention to save animals from the extremely dry conditions. “There is still enough water available for the animals.”
It is usually buffaloes that suffer heavily during these conditions. The current drought had drastically reduced dam levels and forced water restrictions around the country.
Photographer Jens Friis recently visited the park and took several heart-wrenching photos of the effect on the animals. In one photo an elephant bull is standing despondently with his trunk hanging on the ground next to a burned tree, with no foliage in sight.
There was recently a devastating fire in the park, with up to 70 000 hectares lost.
“The Kruger is, like most of South Africa, very dry,” Friis wrote on his Facebook page.
The drought appears to have had positive impact on game viewing opportunities and visitor numbers in the KNP. It is hypothesised that drought enhances game viewing because of decreased vegetation density.
Another positive result is that the management of the perennial rivers have improved, according to Dr Izak Smit of the KNP’s Scientific Services.