Drought hits South Africa's biggest wildlife park, animals at grave risk

Officials in South Africa's biggest wildlife park are anticipating the deaths of some animals because of a drought afflicting the region, but they describe the extremely dry period as a natural way of regulating wildlife populations.

William Mabasa, spokesman for Kruger National Park, says hippos will be among the first animals to die as they wander in search of grazing areas. Buffalos are also expected to suffer if substantial rains don't arrive in coming weeks.

However, park officials told journalists who recently visited Kruger park, a major tourist attraction, that lions and some other predators should benefit from the drought by taking advantage of weakened prey.

Ecologist Izak Smit says rainfall in Kruger park is 40 to 50 percent of the average for this time of year.