South Africa gives go-ahead for elephant culling

February 25th, 2008 - 11:05 pm ICT by admin  

Johannesburg, Feb 25 (DPA) South Africa Monday lifted a 14-year ban on elephant culling, allowing killing to go ahead as an “option of last resort” in managing the country’s swelling elephant numbers. While acknowledging the huge affection in which elephants are held, Environment Minister Martinus van Schalkwyk said the growth in their numbers since the end of culling raised concerns for the environment and the safety of people living near elephant herds.

Van Schalkwyk listed five population control measures in the new Norms and Standards for the Management of Elephants, which will be gazetted later this month and come into effect May 1.

Culling would only take place after the other measures - which include range manipulation (including creating “corridors” for elephants to move between areas), translocation and contraception - had been rejected by an ecologist, the minister said.

South Africa suspended culling amid worldwide protests in 1994. At that time the country’s largest game park, Kruger National Park, had 8,000 elephants. Now it has an estimated 14,000, with a further 6,000 or so living in other parks and private reserves around the country.

Animal rights activists have already threatened protests, tourist boycotts and legal challenges in the event of a resumption of culling.

In the event of culling “we will appeal to the international animal rights community to use its not inconsiderable membership and corporate influence to support a call for tourists to boycott our national parks,” Animal Rights Africa said.

Van Schalkwyk said his department had consulted with experts for a year before drafting the new policy, which also bans the capture of elephants for use in commercial exhibition activities, such as elephant-back tourism or circuses.

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