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25 Feb 2008 14:51
South Africa is to cull elephants for the first time since 1995, lifting a moratorium on the practice to bring ballooning populations under control, the government said on Monday.
“Our department has recognised the need to maintain culling as a management option, but has taken steps to ensure that this will be the option of last resort that is acceptable only under strict conditions,” Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus Van Schalkwyk said in a statement.
Since the government introduced a moratorium on culling in 1995, the number of elephants has risen from about 8 000 to over 20 000, compelling the government to consider culling to halt their unsustainable population growth in game parks.
“The issue of population management has been devilishly complex and we would like to think that we have come up with a framework that is acceptable to the majority of South Africans,” said Van Schalkwyk.
Announcing norms and standards for elephant management, the minister said other methods of population control would include contraception and translocation.
Culling may be undertaken only when recommended by an elephant management specialist, and on approval by authorities.
“It was to be expected that strong emotions would be part of this debate. There are few other creatures on earth that have the ability of elephants to ‘connect’ with humans in a very special way,” said Van Schalkwyk.—AFP
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