The year of 2016 brought one of the strongest droughts to Kruger National park. During the dry months vegetation has shrunk to greyish-yellow sticks.
There used to be additional man-made waterholes for the animals: large barrels with water for elephants and smaller artificial ponds for other animals, but the current position of the Kruger park is not to interfere with nature. Now many man-made waterholes had dried out, leaving only a few working waterholes. The river dams are designed to regulate the river flows in a optimal way, but many of them are dry as well. The animals are heading to the memorized water routs to find nothing.
During dry season the animals concentrate around water sources, while the rest of becomes a wasteland.
Not only is water important to drink, but does influence the quantity and quality of food: if there’s no rain, there’s little vegetation. The major part of animal death during the dry season is not because of lack of water, but because of lack of food. Africa’s grazers – from the enormous elephant to the miniature steenbok – are the worst affected by drought.
For reference, being the largest and the heaviest animal on Earth, African bush elephant typically needs to digest over 220 kg of vegetation and drink over 200 liters daily. A rhinoceros, particularly the white rhinoceros, is one of the largest pure grazers. After the elephant and rhinoceros, the common hippopotamus is the third-largest type of land mammal. Hippos are semiaquatic animals; they spend days in rivers or swamps to remain cool. Because hippos are territorial in water and their groups tend to stretch for a few hundred meters, require a lot of space in water.
Unlike many other animals hippos cannot live travel for days from their water source. If the water source dries out, hippos overheat and cannot survive. I saw a lot of dead hippopotamuses that were unlucky to have their ponds evaporated. Some of them have died right in the pond, poisoning the water for other animals.
While many of us are used to rich river flows and abundance of bottled water in supermarkets, there are places on Earth that suffer from water shortage. Water is most precious and fragile element on Earth, and some of us cannot afford it.
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