To cull or not to cull?
created 2011-05-26 10:53:10

Dear Editor

To cull or not to cull? I am of the opinion that in an Island reserve such as Pilansberg or Madikwe, if you cannot translocate the excess elephant there is no other alternative but to cull in order to maintain the ecological integrity of the reserve.

However this is not the case with the Kruger National Park elephant situation.

I, after spending many years living in Timbavati side by side with elephants and interacting with them on a daily basis, have formed a different view.

National Parks and reserves should be audited to ascertain whether the reserve in question could sustain a elephant population crash and if so elephant populations should be allowed to climb and crash as the natural cycles dictate. The natural rhythms of nature have evolved over millions of years and mans imperfect judgments cannot be compared with that kind of intelligence.

The Kruger National Park has recently become a Transfrontier Park. An additional million hectares has now been fenced in with the KNP. The KNP is now three million hectares in extent, larger than than Wales or Israel!

This reserve could possibly sustain elephant populations indefinitely as occurs with wildebeest populations in the Serengeti.

There needs to be a paradigm shift in the thinking of conservationists who support culling and consider it the only alternative. Nature has looked after itself for millions of years. Conservation is a new science and has only been practised as "educated guesses" for about 80 years or so.

We need to comprehend that culling is only one option of many and each situation is unique. To cull at this time while the park is expanding is premature. KNP management is still trying to push elephants into new areas - if they are doing this it only goes to prove that there is still plenty of space. Elephants have an in-built genetic intelligence that will ultimately come to the fore if allowed.

If we cull we will miss opportunity to witness and learn from that. The elephants and other wildlife are stimulus - response organisms and will respond to any stimulus in their environment. Culling will lead to more prolific breeding. Over-population will lead to some elephants moving into new areas without having to be forced. Allow them to follow their natures and I am sure we will learn a thing or two and be pleasantly surprised.

My vote goes to applying a flexible, accountable approach to the situation. Viva the elephants.

Marco Schiess

Umlani Bushcamp
Timbavati

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