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Patrick Mwalua: Waterman of Tsavo nickname, health challenges, family's appeal for & wife's vow

Known to many as ‘Water Man of Tsavo’ or the ‘Elephant Man’ Mwalua who passed away earlier in the week at the age of 51 used his personal resources Mwalua and donations to provide water for wildlife in Tsavo West and Taita Hills conservancy.

Patrick Mwalua alias The waterman of Tsavo receiving the Head of State Commendation from the then Tourism CS Najib Balala

Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua, an unsung hero in wildlife conservation, left an indelible mark through his intervention that saved wild animals on the brink of death when a devastating drought swept through the Tsavo ecosystem.

Known to many as ‘Water Man of Tsavo’ or the ‘Elephant Man’ Mwalua who passed away earlier in the week at the age of 51 used his personal resources Mwalua and donations to provide water for wildlife in Tsavo West and Taita Hills conservancy.

Growing up in an agricultural neighbourhood affected by human-wildlife conflict, Mwalua was inspired to find solutions to the common challenges affecting his community through climate-smart agriculture projects in his village.

He found his calling and passion in wildlife conservation in 2013

At a time when all the water holes, wells and rivers in the Tsavo ecosystem dried up due to the drought that was experienced in the area, Mwalua rented a 10,000-liter water truck, which he used ferry water to a watering hole, providing the much-needed lifeline to the wild animals.

He would buy the water in Voi, several kilometers away and make the journey through the scorched earth into the wilderness where thousands of animals would turn up for the life-saving drink.

Vowing not to let the animals die, Mwalua continued to do so until the drought ended, with donations from well-wishers and his own resources.

He also delivered water at night for the nocturnal animals, making the journey four times every week and increasing the frequency when resources allowed him to do so.

He struck a bond with wild animals who recognized him and his truck as he made journeys to the particular water hole.

Elephants, buffaloes and zebras would follow him as he made his way across the park and wait patiently to quench their thirst.

His initiative was covered in the Features Segment - Unsung Heroes on K24TV in 2016.

In the feature by K24, Mwalua revealed that he earned his living through farming and had been diagnosed with kidney failure that consumed part of his earnings.

Despite his personal circumstances and health challenges, Mwalua’s love for wild animals carried the day and his efforts attracted the attention of donors who established water projects, including drilling of boreholes and installation of solar pumps inside the park.

His initiative saw him awarded the Head of State Commendation by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Health challenges and death

Mwalua was diagnosed with Kidney failure in 2014 and bravely battled health challenges with weekly dialysis in Mombasa.

In the final days of his life, Mwalua health deteriorated due to the failure of both his kidneys.

Following his death, the family has appealed for support, urging the government and stakeholders to assist in the burial arrangements.

His wife, Rachel Kilonzo hailed his efforts as heroic and vowed to continue with his conservation work.

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