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South Africa to allow elephant killings

South Africa to allow elephant killings

South Africa will allow elephants to be killed in an attempt to control a burgeoning population, the government said, ending a 13-year ban and setting a trend that could embolden other southern African nations confronting the same dilemma.
As outraged animal rights activists threaten to promote tourist boycotts, Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said Monday the government was left with no choice but to reintroduce culling "as a last option and under very strict conditions."
There would be no "wholesale slaughter," he promised.
"Our simple reality is that elephant population density has risen so much in some southern African countries that there is concern about impacts on the landscape, the viability of other species and the livelihoods and safety of people living within elephant ranges," he said.
South Africa has been hugely successful in managing its elephant population, once on the verge of extinction in some parts of the country. But it has now become a victim of its own success and herds are growing at a rate of more than 5 percent a year and expected to double by 2020, threatening the delicate balance of nature.
South Africa has about 18,000 elephants and southern Africa is home to about 300,000 - half of all the elephants on the continent - with the growing numbers taking their toll on the environment.
There is no consensus on the continent on how to manage elephant populations. Southern African countries favor culling while East African nations such as Kenya are struggling to keep numbers up. Trade in ivory has been banned since 1989 to try to combat poaching despite appeals by South Africa to resume sales and invest the proceeds in its parks.
"We are the first country to come out and take this decision," van Schalkwyk said, adding that South Africa had consulted other countries in the region.
The announcement follows months of debate, with some conservationists arguing that overall biodiversity should take priority and animal welfare groups outraged at the prospect of slaughter.


Updated : 2021-05-16 13:20 GMT+08:00