It is usually very dry in Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park, and the as expected, the animals there are struggling to find water to drink and stay alive. Rain isn’t expected to fall until November, but there is someone willing to bring water to the animals by the truckload until that happens.
In come Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua, the founder of Tsavo Volunteers, a group of animal lovers who look after the vulnerable wildlife of Tsavo National Park. Poachers are generally their biggest problem, but these days, the drought is threatening to kill even more animals . The prolonged drought has made water “a very precious commodity”, and thirsty animals sometimes have to walk long distances to find the few watering holes that haven’t dried up. Due to their scarcity, elephants often fight each other for the right to drink, which leaves the smaller, weaker ones at risk of dying. But Patrick and his team are not about to let that happen.
To compensate for the lack of rain, they have started renting water trucks and delivering 12,000 liters of water to a couple of popular watering holes in Tsavo, at least four times a week. They drive 45 miles and try to fill up the holes with as much water as possible. The thirsty animals sometimes wait for them and crowd the trucks, smelling the water they so desperately need. Patrick says that they appear to understand that he and his team are trying to help, and so far they have never attacked the water trucks.
Serving the animals hasnt been an easy ride for Patrick who rents the water trucks that cost about $250 per run, to be exact, and Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua needs help to continue his mission. He has contacted US-based Cher Callaway, an equally dedicated animal activist, and asked her to spread the word about the dire situation in Tsavo. She set up a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe, which recently went viral. The set goal is $150,000, and, over the last five months, 2,569 people have pledged over $111,000 to his cause.
The Elephant Guardian, as Mwalua has come to be known, recently took to Facebook to describe a water run. “I just got a call that animals don’t have water completely and immediately called my driver of the truck to fill the truck with water and within 2 hour time we managed to deliver the water,” he wrote. “It was dark and was so [scary] delivering water while the buffaloes surrounding our truck because they got smell of water. They were drinking as we were delivering and I could see dark big giants standing besides us and some coming towards our truck with no fear for we have precious commodity they missed. We need to triple our delivery if possible for now it is very, very dry!! Please, kindly go to our donation link and let us all help this situation out.”
Patrick says that he and the Tsavo Volunteers are trying to save not just the elephants in Kenya’s national park, but antelopes, buffaloes and all the other species that call it home. That’s why they need to deliver as much water as they can until the rainy season arrives, in November.
Visit Patrick’s crowdfunding campaign and help out, if you can! What a time to be alive!