A Group Of Animals Living And Moving Together Is Called Decision to Cull Elephants in South Africa Has Repercussions in the Tourist Industry

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Decision to Cull Elephants in South Africa Has Repercussions in the Tourist Industry

In a highly controversial move, the South African government has decided to reintroduce culling into its wildlife conservation programme. The practice of culling large herds of elephants was abandoned in 1994, after much pressure from local and international wildlife organizations. Authorities now claim that the population of elephants in the Kruger National Park has grown so much that the park is unable to support them and that the elephants are doing great damage to its fragile ecosystem.

Not surprisingly, this decision has raised the ire of animal welfare organizations around the world. Lawrence Anthony, founder of the Earth Organization, says disposal is not the “last resort” as authorities claim. He says that the decision to kill is based on emotion and that reliable science shows that culling is not only unnecessary, but ineffective.

Professor John Skinner, former head of the Institute of Mammal Research at the University of Pretoria rejects the claim that elephants are destroying the ecosystem in the Park. According to Skinner and other prominent scientists, there is no scientific evidence to prove that elephants have a lasting negative effect on other animals or plants. It has also been proven that culling does not reduce numbers but results in a population explosion as the remaining elephants increase their growth to compensate for the losses.

Jason Beel-Leask, Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Southern Africa, says that not enough attention has been paid to natural means of population control. Bell-Leask believes that the creation of “megaparks”, which cross borders between countries, would allow large herds to traverse a larger area and restore the natural balance between elephants and their environment. Other Bell-Leask proposals include contraception, which has been shown to be effective, as well as translocation.

Born Free, an internationally recognized animal rights group, believes the only barrier to implementing a large-scale contraceptive program is cost. It costs around £50 (R755) to treat a cow elephant. Born Free estimates that the costs of implementing a contraception program would run between £180,000 and £225,000 (R2.7 and R3.4 million). They claim that the current South African economy is more than capable of meeting these costs, if the authorities approve it.

Animal rights groups believe that the decision to implement culling is based on financial reasons rather than reasons. They claim that South Africa will try to profit from the cull by negotiating with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to sell the ivory harvested from the slaughtered elephants.

Whatever the reasons behind the decision, scientists and animal welfare groups agree that the culling will negatively impact South Africa’s tourism industry. They say the decision has already affected South Africa’s reputation as a leader in wildlife conservation. Many organizations have even called for a boycott of tourism in South Africa. The disposal option was opened on 1 May 2008. No action has yet been taken, but it is felt that the coming months will play a major role in defining South Africa’s position among environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts around the world.

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