by Aaron Gekoski


Protecting Hwange’s elephants

Protecting Hwange’s elephants
Protecting Hwange’s elephants

The African elephant, one of our most iconic and recognizable species, is facing a long and desperate few months in Zimbabwe. Hwange National Park is home to one of the world’s largest migratory herds, however the imminent harsh summer months could be about to change this. 

Every year, from October to November, over 40,000 thirsty pachyderms congregate on Hwange’s plains in frantic search of water. The seasons are drier and the overworked water pumps are struggling. More and more animals are dying - slowly and painfully - from dehydration. These prolonged periods of drought have finally brought the animals to crisis point; approximately 100 are already feared dead:

It has been predicted that this year could witness one of the biggest mass die-offs in decades. But it’s not only the elephants that will be affected: other species including lion, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest and leopard will also perish in the unforgiving environment. 

The impending problems go far beyond water shortages. Due to a variety of factors, Hwange’s elephant population has reached unsustainable levels. Their numbers are not only damaging the local ecosystems and wildlife, but also contributing to their own demise. Elsewhere in Africa elephant numbers are collapsing. Surely there is a mutually beneficial solution to this crisis?

To raise awareness about this complex and multifaceted issue, a small crew and I are about to film the documentary: The Year The Elephants Died. We will follow local safari operator Imvelo and their team of pump attendants, during their daily struggle to prevent the animals’ protracted and inhumane deaths.

The film will document the elephants’ painful fight for survival. Conservationists and leading scientists will be interviewed to examine the potential solutions. And the complicated relationships between local people and the giant pachyderms will be explored. 

Whilst Imvelo have donated funds for the travel and living costs of a small crew, we have launched a campaign on crowd-funding platform Indiegogo, to raise additional funds for the edit and promotion of the documentary (after all, what good is a great story, when it sits on the edit room floor?). You can view a trailer of The Year the Elephants Died and see the campaign here:

Our ultimate aim is to bring an end to the undue suffering of these incredible animals and to find solutions to avert future catastrophes. If you can’t support our campaign, then all we ask is that you keep yourears open and trunks sniffing for news of the film and help us to spread the word.

To learn more about Imvelo, please visit

Here is a trailer for the movie:

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