23 March 2005

Culling: Tourism boycott looms

The international community is exercising a lot of pressure on the government and national parks to give up its proposed plan to start culling elephants in the Kruger Park as early as next year.

The debate was re-ignited by a comment by Hector Magome, Sanparks director of conservation services, to Business Day last week that the Sanparks was seriously considering culling elephants and that the public would have to make peace with this harsh reality.

"Kruger Park has more than 12 000 elephants and is overpopulated by at least 5 000."

Michelle Pickover, founder of Xwe African Wildlife Investigation and Research Centre, said many animal-rights organisations across the globe were on the war path.

The Sunday Independent reported that various animal-rights organisations, such as Humane Society International, Care for the Wild and International Fund for Animal Welfare have already protested against the government's "proposed plan".

Pickover said that her organisation was strongly considering joining forces with international animal-rights organisations to campaign for a tourism boycott.

Pickover accused the government of deceiving role-players who attended the elephant debate in Kruger Park in October last year.

Wanda Mkutshulwa, spokesperson for Sanparks, said on Sunday "that animal-rights groups are pre-empting the process as no final decision has been made on the elephants' fate". "Scientists are currently compiling a report containing all the suggestions made during the elephant debate.

The report will be handed to Marthinus van Schalkwyk, minister of environmental affairs, at the end of April.

The public will then be invited to submit further suggestions. Culling is just one of the many options.

She said she could not comment on Magome's statement.

South Africa ceased culling elephants in Kruger Park in 1994 due to pressure from the international community.


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