The landscape is parched, as Kenya is experiencing the harshest drought since 2009. I was aware of the situation before I arrived and I was trying to prepare myself for dire consequences that I was going to witness. But nothing can prepare you for the shocking reality.
My senses and emotions were on overdrive. I spent the day in Amboseli National Park which is a natural swamp and water source not only for wildlife, but also for the Maasai community’s livestock. Droughts are natural in these semi-arid systems, but human-induced climate change and human land-use changes has left the ecosystem vulnerable.
Amboseli undergoes two dry seasons each year and while the springs provide unlimited drinking water, when the rains fail the surrounding grasses cannot grow. The impact is devastating. As the current drought goes on, desperate animals are grazing right into the water, trying to scrounge the last scraps of nutrition. The wildlife and livestock are skinny, weak, dehydrated and slowly dying of starvation. The park smelled of rotting carcasses as a trail of dead wildlife was everywhere. This is the reality of a drought in these large wild landscapes that are home to thousands of wild animals.
Everyone is on edge and hoping that the short rains show up in October to December which will be the next window of opportunity to ease drought. Although hard, I tried to think about the cycle of live and the balance of nature. While the herbivores are suffering, the predators are thriving. Species like cheetahs and lions (which are listed as vulnerable) and vultures (which are listed as endangered) will have a chance to increase, and hyeanas, jackals, and smaller cats are thriving. These animals are critical in balancing the ecosystem. Nature isn't a fair place to exist, but this seems like an unusual circumstance as the weather patterns are getting more unpredictable and less reliable.
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