Please Help Stop the Elephant Cull in South Africa
PRETTORIA: SOUTH AFRICA – Leading animal protection and conservation organization, The Born Free Foundation, expressed utter disappointment today after Environmental Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk announced recommendations for government - sanctioned elephant culling. A public comment period is in place until 1st May.
This would end the culling ban introduced in 1994, the year that free elections in the RAINBOW Nation ended apartheid for good.
“The bold, forward-looking decision would have been to take culling off the table for good,” said Will Travers, Born Free’s CEO. “Instead, decision-makers have embraced the most controversial and terrible option – slaughtering elephants.”
Between 1966 and 1994 more than 16,000 elephants were culled in the Kruger National Park, as a method of ‘population control’. Displaced cull orphans today languish in foreign lands – including American zoos. Analysis of the impact of this 27 year long programme confirms that it did not deliver long-term protection of habitat that had been anticipated. Indeed, culling may actually stimulate accelerated breeding by survivors to compensate for unnatural population losses. As such, culling is a short term fix which will need to be repeated, to all intents and purposes, forever, since it does not prevent breeding.
“We have a sincere ethical responsibility to protect elephants from this cruelty,” Travers noted. “The Minister has declared that management of natural resources ‘should be conducted ethically, humanely and rationally.’ If this is the case, he should hear loud and clear: elephant culling is not ethical, humane, or rational.”*
Additionally, there may be a wider continental impact should elephant killing in South Africa commence. While elephants across much of Africa continue to suffer from habitat destruction, the illegal bushmeat trade, and poaching for their tusks, culling will lead to increased national ivory stockpiles and considerable pressure to commercialize this ivory on international markets in the future.
Born Free has been a champion of elephant conservation and protection for nearly 2 decades. We have fought the ivory trade at every CITES meeting since 1989 and have put hundreds of thousands of US$ into field work to protect elephants from persecution, reduce human/elephant conflict and combat poachers.
Born Free supports real conservation and a series of alternatives to culling including range expansion, translocation, and contraception. We urge the Minister to reconsider his decision which will have such brutal consequences for tens of thousands of animals.
Travers concluded: “Clearly, the international community will take a close look at South Africa’s decision to lift the culling ban. Many tourists to South Africa may well reconsider their plans when faced with the reality of traveling to a country that condones the killing of its elephants. National Parks should be safe havens for elephants – not killing fields.”