The biggest national park in Zimbabwe has recorded no lesser than 55 elephants starved to death in the last two months due to droughts.
The droughts reportedly forced the animals to move into communities nearby the park in search of food and water.
National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesman Tinashe Farawo described the situation at the Hwange National Park as “dire”.
The drought is the worst in years in the southern African nation that is also reeling from its collapsed economy, resulting in massive food and water shortages, according to CNN report.
Mr Farawo said as animals stray from Zimbabwe’s wildlife parks they destroy crops and sometimes kill people.
He added that more than 20 people have been killed this year alone.
Overcrowding in Hwange contributes to the destruction of vegetation – the park can handle 15,000 elephants but currently has about 53,000, Mr Farawo said.
Other animals are also being affected by the drought and the wildlife agency has been drilling wells as deep as 400 meters to find water for the animals.
Mr Farawo told CNN: “The single biggest threat to our animals now is loss of habitat.
“We have managed to significantly reduce poaching… we were losing hundreds of elephants in past years, but last year we only lost not more than 20 to poaching.”
Zimbabwe has one of Africa’s largest elephant populations and seeks to be allowed to hunt and export more of them to ease pressure on the animals’ habitat and raise badly needed money for conservation.
Botswana, which also has a large elephant population, lifted a ban on elephant hunting earlier this year to help reduce conflict between humans and animals and earn the country much-needed revenue.
But other countries that are part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora have successfully lobbied to limit the sales of elephants, to the dismay of some African countries that say they are struggling with large numbers of the animals.