Illustrations by Julia Vakser
Humans now appropriate more than half of all the freshwater in the world. Rising demands from agriculture, industry, and a growing population have left important habitats around the world high and dry.
On March 20, 2000, a group of monkeys, driven mad with thirst, clashed with desperate villagers over drinking water in a small outpost in northern Kenya near the border with Sudan. The Pan African News Agency reported that eight monkeys were killed and 10 villagers injured in what was described as a “fierce two-hour melee.” The fight erupted when relief workers arrived and began dispensing water from a tanker truck. Locals claimed that a prolonged drought had forced animals to roam out of their natural habitats to seek life-giving water in human settlements. The monkeys were later identified as generally harmless vervets.