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Nature

South Africa Could Soon Allow Controlled Elephant Hunts

Once severely endangered, elephants in South Africa now thrive, causing some to worry that their population could threaten smaller species.

While some are calling to reinstate culling of elephants for the first time since 1994, other conservationists worry that the effects of killing elephants run deeper than we understand.[social_buttons]

In 1900, the elephant population sunk to only 200 due to hunting; now, the population is estimated to be 17,000. This soaring number combined with their individual demand for feed can result in over-grazing, which hurts the rhinoceros and gazelle populations first.

The animals, which can live up to 70 years, seem to have strong familial bonds that extend to death. After one of their own dies, elephants often sit near the body for days and sometimes try to cover the body with sticks.

Due to the emotional impact on other elephants, the government would require that entire families of elephants be killed rather than only the old or sick. Contraception and translocation have been deemed too expensive to use. Other parts of Southern Africa are experiencing similar over-population, but forest elephants in central Africa still face numerous threats.

Conservation group the World Wildlife Fund agrees with South Africa’s plans.

“In some areas there may be too many elephants for the available area, and culling may be needed,” said Sue Lieberman, director of the WWF International species program. “It’s not a preferred option and it’s not a pretty sight. Nobody wants to do this, but the option of doing nothing doesn’t exist.”

Photo Credit: Exfordy on Flickr under Creative Commons license.




4 comments
  1. David Shellhamer

    Why can’t we relocate them to other parts of Africa? Or take them to zoos all over the world? I’ve also heard an elephant can feed four people four a week. If we do hunt, I hope we are feeding the poor. David

  2. Jim Davis

    This is an excellent example of how little we truly understand what we’re doing. It is a testament to the fact that although we know it, we refuse to accept the true reality that each is all, that everything goes with everything else. We have interfered with the natural order of things to the point that we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
    This existence is not some an experiment, it’s the real deal, the only game in town, and we had better get it right. Wild Horses, now Elephants, which species is next?

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