Elephant cull – Not a solution

Dear Friends

Monday 17th March is the day that the famous paleontologist, Dr Richard Leakey, has cautiously accepted that elephant culling in South Africa may be a necessary evil.

While over the last nearly 20 years I have agreed with Richard on many, many things, this is one I cannot agree with.  I have seen no conclusive evidence that culling is a viable and acceptable solution to the perceived over-population of elephants in South Africa.  Nor have I seen evidence to prove that there is indeed an elephant over-population in the first place. 

There are numerous alternative strategies which have yet to be applied, most particularly, the opening up of the trans-border protected area between the Kruger National Park and western Mozambique. 

It is also interesting to compare two countries in Africa with elephant populations but with very different approaches.  South Africa is 1.2 m sq kms, that’s the twice the size of Kenya and four times the size of Great Britain.  South Africa has more National Park area than Kenya.  South Africa has 48 million human inhabitants while Kenya has 37 million and, most importantly, South Africa has 18,000 elephants and Kenya has 31,000. 

Kenya wants more elephants. South Africa says it has too many.  The figures don’t seem to add up. 

The one positive note in the whole sorry South African elephant mismanagement saga is that the Government has now confirmed that it will not allow the live export of elephants to captive situations such as circuses and zoos.  That is certainly to be applauded.  But the notion that thousands of elephants will be killed to reduce their numbers to some arbitrary figure to maintain the landscape in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to people but may be entirely the result of past animal management manipulation, is unjustifiable and wrong.

Dr Richard Leakey is a man of great experience and an influential voice in conservation but the Government of South Africa has agreed that it will consider everyone’s voice over the next six weeks before it makes a final decision on 1st May.  I hope that they will listen to what we have to say and will fully implement all the alternative strategies which we believe offer long-term sustainable and humane hope to South Africa’s wild elephants for generations to come. 

I was invited by CBBC Newsround to give my opinion on the culling situation in South Africa on their programme today.

If you haven’t visited yet, please do look at our action tasks on the website http://www.bornfree.org.uk/campaigns/elephants/campaign-action/elephant-cull/

Blogging off


3 Responses to “Elephant cull – Not a solution”

  1. Fiona Says:

    I don’t know a lot about this type of thing, but is contraception out of the question regarding the elephants? I’m concerned about Richard Leakey’s response as well given that I’ve financially supported Wildlife Direct for the last 6 months.

  2. Neville Wells Says:

    Two letters to RSA’s Environment Minister went unanswered although receipt of one was acknowledged by his deputy. Presumably the report of Sep/Oct 2006 in SA Journal of Science 102 “A scientific perspective on the management of elephants in the Kruger NP and elsewhere” taken from your website has been ignored. I asked the Minister if any culled ivory could be destroyed officially, in the event of culling going ahead. As in Nairobi previously when poached ivory was burnt, as you will recall.

    I also wrote to BBC wildlife magazine asking if canned hunting in RSA could be exposed by the wild life program makers and journalists featured each month, following Louis Theroux’s literally devastating item recently on BBC tv.

    Lastly I wrote to the Daily Telegraph about China’s tiger/bear farms at the time the Olympic Flame was paraded in London, but so far it has not been printed perhaps because the “red tops” had covered the story of these farms well before. The Daily Telegraph does not appear particularly interested in wild life matters which shock,surprising considering their likely readership.

  3. Mike Says:

    So according to the values attributed to Dr Richard Leakey, we as a race have the right to arbitrarily decide that one day the slaughter of a species is not acceptable, but the next day it is fine. I’d have to ask, how is that morally justified?