Water is Life

The Tsavo conservation area, Kenya’s largest and most important wildlife Sanctuary, and home to the country’s largest single population of elephants, encompasses 60,000 square kilometers much of it extremely arid and waterless country –   Much of this region was previously simply known as the Taru Desert

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The Tsavo conservation area, Kenya’s largest and most important wildlife Sanctuary, and home to the country’s largest single population of elephants, encompasses 60,000 square kilometers much of it extremely arid and waterless country –   Much of this region was previously simply known as the Taru Desert.   Indeed, its arid nature is its strength; the reason it was available to be set aside for wildlife in the first place, since it is of  little use for anything else – too arid for agriculture, tse tse infested for livestock, remote, hot and inhospitable for human settlement.  Only two permanent rivers water this arid landscape, but the area contains the single largest biodiversity of wildlife in the world, since just by chance the Northern races of fauna happen to meet the Southern forms, doubling up on species.   During the long, hot dry seasons which extend from January until the end of April and from June until November, all water dependent species have to either fall back on Tsavo’s only two permanent rivers, the Tsavo and the Galana or rely on artificial water sources.

At the moment there is a brutal drought throughout much of Northern Kenya, and Tsavo is certainly under the grip of yet another extremely dry year.  Elephant herds rely on the wisdom of their matriarchs to guide them wisely through these difficult months, where both food and water are scarce, and human wildlife conflict at its peak.  The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is proud to have been able to help the Kenya Wildlife Service and Tsavo’s rich biodiversity by providing four artificial water sources along the main Tourist Circuit in the form of boreholes and Windmills with a fourth capped borehole in the Voi river Valley that can be brought into production when needed.  One Windpump services the Ndara Plains area, another further East at Dida Harea and a third at Aruba where the original man-made lake has turned into grassy flats that will sustain the Park’s large buffalo herds and other grazers.     The Trust monitors and funds the maintenance of all these vital water sources regularly to ensure that they always remain functional, for in these times Water really is Life.

In the face of worsening drought conditions, CNN interviewed DSWT's Angela Sheldrick and our Nairobi Head Keeper Edwin Lusichi to find out the impact on the elephants and the issues of human wildlife conflict http://edition.cnn.com/2011/09/09/world/africa/drought-elephant-human-conflict/