Water is essential for life: for plants, for wildlife, for humans. Unfortunately water of good quality is in even greater demand, largely because of increasing human activities. In large parts of the world this demand is expected to continuing growing over the coming decades, as human populations and development continue to increase. At the same time it is predicted that water availability will decrease in large parts of the world because of climate change.
WWF – The Netherlands is concerned that, without appropriate integrated water management, wildlife in particular will suffer from the combination of reduced rainfall, increased water demand for human purposes, and decreased access to freshwater because of increased presence of livestock and people. It has therefore commissioned this review of the scientific literature on “Dependence of large mammals in sub-Saharan Africa on water and water management”, in which particular attention is given to seven species: elephant (Loxodonta africana), hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), buffalo (Syncerus caffer), black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis, white
rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum, lion (Panthera leo), and leopard (Panthera pardus).. These species have been selected because they fullfill one or more of the following criteria:
• they are a keystone species in the ecosystems where they occur;
• they are in danger of becoming extinct
• they are of economic value for the tourist industry
• they are a terrestrial species for which negative effects of inappropriate water management may be less evident.