Quotes from Experts
“The Ministers approval to kill perhaps thousands of elephants in South African game reserves is incorrect and will be firmly rejected by the public locally and internationally,” said Lawrence Anthony founder of the Earth Organization a South African based international conservation group.
Prof. John Skinner
Prof. John Skinner, President of the Royal Society of South Africa, summarized the scientists’ frustration by publicly exclaiming: “There is not a shred of evidence in published scientific literature to demonstrate that elephant are affecting the biodiversity in the Kruger National Park”.
Dr. Ian Raper
Even as “an option of last resort”, the culling of elephants in Kruger Park and elsewhere must be seen as totally unwarranted. The scientific advisory board of the Earth Organization has produced evidence that, for example:
- The artificial water-holes introduced by SANParks cause burgeoning static populations
- There is no factual general habitat carrying capacity for elephant.
- Damage to flora is inflicted chiefly by lone bulls outside the herd
- Many trees in fact need to be jostled for regeneration (recent findings published in Nature confirm this).
- Flora in general recovers from elephant damage within five years
- More and more lasting damage is being caused by impala, for example, than by elephants
- Elephants return in greater numbers to areas where culling has taken place
- The concept of vast continuous ranges, e.g. as proposed by Prof Rudi van Aarde, holds great promise.
Bruce Page, a scientist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal who contributed to the norms and standards, questioned this week whether it was accurate or relevant. “The number of elephants in Kruger may have increased, but so what? History shows that culling in the park did not have an impact on trees.”
Managing only elephant numbers and ignoring the effects of other animals such as impalas was futile, he explained. “Managers who want to start culling elephants have to get past the fact that we still don’t know whether it has an influence on biodiversity.”
Jason Bell-Leask (IFAW)
Here is an opposing view: Culling is a cruel, unethical and a scientifically unsound practice that does not consider the welfare implications to elephant society as a whole, says Jason Bell-Leask, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)s Southern Africa Director