Adopt an elephant

2008-03-01 00:00

If you are a minke whale anywhere near Japan, or an elephant currently living in South Africa, these are alarming times. It seems that there are too many elephants in this country. Most of them live in the Kruger National Park, where they are busily turning forest into grassland, destroying mighty baobabs, drinking all the water and — if that isn’t bad enough — breaking out of Eden and terrifying ordinary God-fearing humans, while trampling their crops and breaking down fences. Clearly this can’t go on; equally clearly something must be done about all those bloody elephants.

In the past, before we and the elephants got freedom, the sharpest sharp shooters in the land would fly in by helicopter and kill the surplus elephant population with high-powered rifles. Then heavy- duty motorised transporters would load up the lolling corpses and transport them to a nice, clean elephant abattoir where they would be cut up into cling-wrapped packages and sold for tiny bits of the old money to the cheering, non-vegetarian masses.

Imagine the shock, the horror, the Munch-style face-grabbing distress that lentil fanciers like myself felt to discover that the bad old days of elephant culling are coming back again.

Never mind that the God-fearing humans living near Kruger are already tuning up their braaivleis machines. What’s more to the point, is that despite the best intentions of the current African National Congress Minister of Elephants, that nice Marthinus van Schalkwyk, other non-lethal methods of elephant population control already look like non-starters.

Not being a self-appointed, unelected spokesthing for the bunnies and the nunus, I cannot summon the required blast of righteousness that the forthcoming culling has already unleashed. But thanks entirely to the vast amount of meat my mother fed me as a child, my imagination is not only up and running, but only too happy to contribute a plan to the ongoing debate.

I suggest that willing citizens are made beneficiaries of a special social grant. To get this, they have to agree to adopt an elephant, and keep the cuddly pachyderm at home. The grant will cover housing, feeding, security, welfare and a down payment on a grave plot in the celebrated Elephants’ Graveyard, when the time comes for Jumbo to, how can I put this delicately, go home.

The facts speak for themselves. If 9 000 willing citizens respond to the call, there will be a 50% decrease in Kruger’s alarmingly huge elephant population. But what about the social grant, I hear you ask. Surely this will become just another massive load on the national exchequer?

Not a bit of it. While elephant haters might see a flattened baobab, dry dams and endless grassland, entrepreneurs see only golden business opportunities. Space is limited, so let me just tell you about the big one. Taxis. Yes, you heard me. Elephant taxis, replacing the current fleet of minibuses. For a start, they’re environment-friendly in small numbers. Next, they’re a tourist attraction. And finally the massive amounts of elephant dung can be used to fill the many, many potholes of this great, although sorely misunderstood, nation of ours.

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