Court helps Riff Raff the elephant escape death sentence

2019-04-06 14:32
Riff Raff the elephant. (Photo: Supplied by CAT)

Riff Raff the elephant. (Photo: Supplied by CAT)

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The Limpopo High Court has intervened and given an elephant known as Riff Raff a temporary stay of execution. 

Humane Society International, Africa and its partners took the matter to court on Tuesday after landowners in Hoedspruit near Kruger National Park wanted to shoot the collared bull elephant, which they consider a "nuisance".

"Riff Raff’s habit of trampling fences to gain access to land that has been in his territory for more than half his life, led neighbours to his reserve to apply to have him killed, despite the fact that campaigners from Humane Society International/Africa and Global Supplies had already found him a new home approximately 450km away," HIS/Africa said in a statement. 

The activists were forced to head to court after the Limpopo government turned down a request for Riff Raff to be relocated for a second time. 

HSI/Africa said it would now take the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism to court to review its decision. 

The animal activists had hoped the matter would be resolved when they relocated the elephant to a new reserve last year, after landowners applied for a permit to have the elephant destroyed. 

READ: The problem of an elephant that just wants to stay home

"Despite successfully transporting Riff Raff to the new reserve, he turned around and walked the 40-mile (64kms) journey back to his original territory, and back in the line of fire," HSI/Africa said. 

"In Riff Raff’s case, a fence was erected in the middle of his home range during one of the region’s worst droughts, cutting him off from a water source and land that he had used unhindered for 13 years," Audrey Delsink, Wildlife Director of HSI/Africa said. 

An independent study by the Elephant Specialist Advisory Group revealed that up to 50 destruction permits were issued between 2016-2017 to kill so-called problem elephants.

“If the decision is upheld and Riff Raff is killed through a destruction permit, it will be a tragedy not only for this amazing animal but for all so-called ‘problem’ elephants across South Africa who face a similar fate," Delsink said. 

Animal activists say they are concerned that landowners are using destruction orders as an easy way to get rid of elephants rather than having to implement elephant-friendly management plans for their land.

The World Wildlife Fund ranks elephants as a vulnerable species with the global population shrinking to 415 000 from 10 million in the last century due to intense ivory poaching and a rapid loss of habitat due to human settlement, reports Reuters. 

Read more on:    polokwane  |  animals
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