What we do
Pumping water for wildlife
Animals, including large herds of elephants, gather around waterholes to drink, cool down and socialize. Hwange National Park has very limited natural surface water and, since the 1930s, waterholes have been pumped using groundwater. Initially these were powered by windmills, then by engines, and now, by innovative solar hybrid pumps. This has attracted herds of elephants even during the dry season and the population of these enormous mammals has grown exponentially; the park now has almost 4 times as many elephants as it should have! Given existing natural resources and the drought, there is simply not enough food and water to sustain all of Hwange’s animals and it’s estimated 45,000 elephants. As a result, every year, hundreds die of dehydration or starvation. With this year’s persisting drought, it’s likely to be even worse.
Pumping water is essential to supporting as many animals as possible during the dry season. However, it also encourages population growth and is therefore not a long-term solution as the environment lacks the capacity to sustain growing elephant populations. These populations also make it difficult for smaller animals to access waterholes, eat enormous amounts of vegetation and destroy important acacia and teak forests. Partners are exploring options and promoting research to manage what seems to be an ecological crisis. However, in the short-term, water needs to be pumped as animals move to these areas expecting water that has been pumped here for decades.
Maintaining pumps, fuel provision, repairing solar panels, employing staff all comes at a cost and support to the local partners who do this is critical at this time.
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