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Wildlife Watch: Freak Weather Results in Loss of Life

  • Wednesday, October 1, 1997

IN TWO SEPARATE INCIDENTS, severe weather in South Africa resulted in the loss of human life and the death of thousands of wild animals, among them 14 black-maned Kalahari Desert lions.

Last April, 21 lions, close to starvation because of a three-year drought, broke through the fence of Kalahari Gemsbok National Park onto a Namibian farm in search of food. The lions killed about six sheep before the farmer shot 14 of the trespassers, according to a report in the African Wildlife Update. The South African National Parks Board and the Namibian Ministry of the Environment are holding talks on how to avoid such incidents in the future.

In July, some 500 miles to the east, a blizzard struck the Drakensberg mountains and surrounding regions, including the country of Lesotho. Rescue teams helped hikers and others out, and emergency supplies were airlifted to villages buried by the surprise snowstorm, the area's worst in 30 years. But rescuers were unable to reach some shepherds in the Lesotho mountains. The number of wild animals believed dead is estimated in the thousands, although park authorities say the extent of human and wildlife casualties won't be known for weeks.

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