South Africa to Cull Elephants

Dear Friends

Maybe they thought the world would be looking the other way – American elections, trouble in Kenya, Kosovo, global warming ……. but South Africa’s announcement that it will recommence culling did not slip under our radar.

Despite detailed information provided by many leading elephant experts to the South African authorities indicating that not only was culling unethical, unsound and biologically inconsistent but environmentally ill-advised, it would seem that those advocates of killing elephants as a population control measure, have prevailed, at least for the moment. It seems extraordinary that a country with over 1.2 m sq kms seems unable to accommodate just 20,000 elephants when, by contrast, Kenya, a country less than half the size, has just announced – with pride – that they have over 30,000 elephants.

Of course, it does not mean (I hope) culling will start at once. Maybe there is time for the authorities to consider the numerous other options available to deal with local elephant over-population where this can be proved to be the case but another real worry, one which could have an impact on elephants right across Africa and Asia, is that if culling goes ahead, South Africa will be gathering yet more piles of ivory (following the 30 tonne sale approved at the last CITES Conference in June 2007) and that poachers will target some of the world’s most vulnerable wild elephant populations in an expectation that they will, quite literally, make a killing in the not too distant future.

The recommendations will be published on 29th February and a public comment period is in place until 1st May. Please let your voice be heardand write to South Africa’s Environment Minister, Marthinus Van Schalkwyck, expressing your concerns about South Africa’s announcement and intention to cull.

He can be contacted via his advisor here

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