At least 55 elephants have starved to death in the previous two months in Zimbabwe’s most significant national park as a significant drought forces animals to stray into nearby communities in search of meals and water, authorities say.

“The challenge is genuine, the circumstance is dire,” stated National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesman Tinashe Farawo. Other animals such as lions at Hwange National Park have been impacted.

This is the worst drought in years in the southern African nation that also suffers from a collapsing economy. Enormous meals and water shortages have resulted.

As animals stray from Zimbabwe’s wildlife parks they destroy crops and in some cases kill folks, Farawo stated, adding that much more than 20 folks have been killed this year alone.

Overcrowding in Hwange contributes to the destruction of vegetation. The park can manage 15,000 elephants but at the moment has about 53,000, Farawo stated.

Meanwhile the drought is drying up water sources. The wildlife agency has been drilling wells as deep as 400 meters to discover water for the animals.

A herd of elephants gather at a water hole in Zimbabwe’s Hwange national park.

A herd of elephants collect at a water hole in Zimbabwe’s Hwange national park. Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

“The single most significant threat to our animals now is loss of habitat,” Farawo stated. “We have managed to considerably lessen poaching … we have been losing hundreds of elephants in previous years, but final year we only lost not much more than 20 to poaching.”

Zimbabwe has 1 of Africa’s biggest elephant populations. It desires to hunt and export much more of them to ease stress on the animals’ habitat and raise badly required funds for conservation.

Botswana, which also has a big elephant population, this year lifted a ban on elephant hunting, saying the move would aid lessen conflict amongst humans and animals and earn the nation a great deal-required income.

But other nations that are parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora have effectively lobbied to limit the sales of elephants, to the dismay of some African nations that say they are struggling with big numbers of the animals.