NSPCA concerned about lot of circus elephants

The unnecessary confinement and transportation of elephants for entertainment purposes has left the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) “seriously perturbed”.

The NSPCA was on Tuesday responding to the Norms and Standards for the Management of Elephants in South Africa, announced by Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk on Monday.

“We are, however, seriously perturbed that provision has been made for the temporary import and export of captive circus elephants, even if for limited periods.

“Our concerns are based on welfare principles and the unnecessary confinement and transportation of these social creatures for the sole purpose of entertainment,” said Brenda Santon, manager of the NSPCA’s wildlife unit.

Santon, however, welcomed the minister’s decision to prohibit the capture of wild elephants for commercial exhibition facilities and the ban on the import and export of wild or captive elephants for the purposes of keeping them in captivity.

On Monday, Van Schalkwyk announced that a moratorium on elephant culling will be lifted from May 1 this year, under certain conditions.

Conditions stipulate that culling can only be done subject to other population-management options and in terms of a management plan that sets out the conditions and manner of the culling.

South Africa’s elephant population is currently about 18 000, with 14 000 of the elephants living in the Kruger National Park. A moratorium on culling was put in place in 1995.

The NSPCA said it is confident the provisions of the Norms and Standards will be upheld and that all available alternatives to culling will first be explored.

“In the absolute event that lethal measures are necessary, this must be carried out humanely and with compassion, and steps must also be taken to avoid the reoccurrence of the need to reduce numbers,” it said.—Sapa

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