Culling elephants may be necessary

2019-02-27 06:01

THE Department of Environmental Affairs reports that the fact that 25% fewer rhino were poached in 2018 than the previous year, is good news.

However, it must be seen within the context that there might be fewer rhino left to poach. Every rhino poached is one too many and they remain critically endangered. Farming rhino for their horns is probably the way forward, although this remains controversial, but nothing else has worked.

What is alarming is that elephant poaching has increased in the Kruger National Park in the same period. However, the poacher’s bullet and legal hunters are not the main threats to elephant populations. Hunters account for only 0,1 to 0,23% of the elephants killed, which is statistically insignificant.

The main threat remains the loss and degradation of habitat. Southern Africa has about 40% of the continent’s elephant populations. Since 1960, the Top Canopy Tree (TCT) count has been reduced by 95% in the Kruger Park.

The TCT count is a measure of the health of an ecosystem. This loss is caused mainly by elephants because the carrying capacity of the available habitat has been exceeded. In 1960, the Rhodesian (Zimbabwe) National Parks recommended that one elephant per square mile is the carrying capacity of an ecosystem. Consider the Kruger Park, an area of 8 000 square miles, with an estimated 20 000 elephants. It becomes clear that the carrying capacity has been greatly exceeded. In Zimbabwe, the situation is worse. The number of excess animals in Zim and SA is 40 000 to 50 000.

Relocation of so many animals is impossible, the unfortunate reality is that large-scale culling might be the only way to ensure the elephants and their habitat’s long-term survival.

RONALD KLIPP

Wartburg

THE Department of Environmental Affairs reports that the fact that 25% fewer rhino were poached in 2018 than the previous year, is good news.

However, it must be seen within the context that there might be fewer rhino left to poach. Every rhino poached is one too many and they remain critically endangered. Farming rhino for their horns is probably the way forward, although this remains controversial, but nothing else has worked.

What is alarming is that elephant poaching has increased in the Kruger National Park in the same period. However, the poacher’s bullet and legal hunters are not the main threats to elephant populations. Hunters account for only 0,1 to 0,23% of the elephants killed, which is statistically insignificant.

The main threat remains the loss and degradation of habitat. Southern Africa has about 40% of the continent’s elephant populations.

Since 1960, the Top Canopy Tree (TCT) count has been reduced by 95% in the Kruger Park.

The TCT count is a measure of the health of an ecosystem. This loss is caused mainly by elephants because the carrying capacity of the available habitat has been exceeded. In 1960, the Rhodesian (Zimbabwe) National Parks recommended that one elephant per square mile is the carrying capacity of an ecosystem. Consider the Kruger Park, an area of 8 000 square miles, with an estimated 20 000 elephants.

It becomes clear that the carrying capacity has been greatly exceeded. In Zimbabwe, the situation is worse. The number of excess animals in Zim and SA is 40 000 to 50 000.

Relocation of so many animals is impossible, the unfortunate reality is that large-scale culling might be the only way to ensure the elephants and their habitat’s long-term survival.

RONALD KLIPP

Wartburg

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