Source: The Mercury, 13 March, 2001, p.??


Outcry over plan to cull elephants



London

AS many as 1000
elephants may be
slaughtered in one of
the largest wildlife
reserves in Africa,
despite an
international outcry
from conservationists.
	South Africa's
Kruger National Park
has drawn up a
management plan to
find ways of reducing
elephant numbers from
9000 to 8000.
	It is looking for
alternatives to
culling but says a
decision is urgent
for the sake of other
wildlife.
	Kruger spokesman
William Mabasa said
officials hoped to
find homes for some
of the animals in
other African
reserves or spread
them into zones
where there is
sufficient
vegetation for them.
	"At present they
are uprooting trees,
some of them rare
species, and upsetting
the balance of Kruger's
ecosystem," he said.
"The problem is
elephants can live
to 60 years or more and
there is no way of
preventing further
breeding."
	The last cull in Kruger
took place 10 years ago.
It prompted a public
outcry and the
management
brought in a no-
culling policy.
	"We are having to
review that," said
Mabasa. "Culling is our
last resort but it may be
necessary in the end.
	"It would be very sad
for us. However, we have
to do something urgently
to protect the other
species here. Kruger
cannot end up as an
elephant reserve only."
	Officials have tried
injecting elephants with
a contraceptive drug but
the park is the size of
Wales, making it difficult
to implement this
strategy.
	Dr Willem Gertenbech,
the park's general
manager, said it would be
difficult to relocate the
animals because of the
expense. There was no
demand for them
elsewhere.
	"Communities
surrounding the park
complain that the
elephants stampede their
crops," he said.
	If the cull went ahead,
officials planned to store
the tusks and sell the
ivory as soon as
international law
allowed.
	The culling of
elephants had been a
vexed question for years.
	There was an outcry
after the Convention of
International Trade in
Endangered Species
allowed a partial lifting
of its ban on the ivory
trade for a limited sale
four years ago. This was
the result of over-
population of protected
elephants and a desire to
appease Zimbabwe,
Namibia and Botswana.
where large scale
poaching had been
controlled.
	Numbers were drop-
ping by 50 per cent each
year at the height of
poaching but since the
ivory ban in 1989,
populations had grown
by an average of 6 per
cent per year. At a
conference last year, a
two-year delay in the
resumption of ivory sales
was agreed while
procedures were worked
out to thwart a rise in
poaching.


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