South African wildlife worries

Old Nov 24th, 2005, 07:04 AM
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South African wildlife worries

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

For those of you who have traveled to South Africa there is an extremely concerning thing going on. Many of you may not know, but Kruger National Park is considering culling (executing) 5,000 - 10,000 elephants. There is an excellent article at:

http://www.prleap.com/pr/19816/

The Humane Sociey of the U.S. stated publicly that "if the cull takes place, they will advise their 8.5 million members to avoid South Africa as a destination. Other major groups may follow suit".

I'm sure that if one suggested culling 5,000 - 10,000 people in that area everyone would be horrified and there would be a hue and cry worldwide, and yet because it is "just wildlife" it is alright.

What the South Africans haven't yet figured out is that if the cull takes place, all elephants in the area will become nervous, jittery and some very violent, all very distrustful of people.

For those of you who have been to South Africa, please write your lodges and tour companies expressing your displeasure with this proposed move.

Jan
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Old Nov 24th, 2005, 07:53 AM
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Another article to read to give some perspective.


http://www.africa-geographic.com/Arc...01/A120401.htm
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Old Nov 24th, 2005, 10:11 AM
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We as visitors and concerned individuals do not face the daily challenges of conserving for perpetuity the confined eco-system of the Kruger National Park. We involve ourselves emotionally, however have no real understanding of all the factors that effect a decision to cull.

I know that the management of the KNP conducts extensive studies before taking this decision. IMO good science will prevail.

The challenge with determining the fate of the elephant is not simply predicated by their number, economics play a major role, conservation of other species, the carrying capacity of the reserve, natuarlly the confined nature of the reserve and the dependants that live along the boundary.

By all means voice your opinion, but do so with an understanding and not just a knee jerk reaction to an incredibly emotional issue. Just because they are animals does not give anyone the right, however their fate and future was altered through the intervention of man, consequently man has the obligation to ensure the success of the Elephant in the kruger along with all other species.

The population in the Kruger has in the past been controlled through culling, this came to an end some years ago through legislation passed at a SITES conference. Up to that point seldom were there reports of jittery and dangerous elephant in the kruger. It appears that the scientific approach and removal of family herds was effective.

Re-located elephants showed a greater hostility and became problem animals in the parks they were moved to. Read reports on the Pilanesburg and early reloaction projects. I for one am not a fan of sterilisation, who knows what dynamic that can effect & how is practical to effect such a large population in any event?

Perhaps the prudent approach would be to adopt some of Cynthia Mosses assumptions, which after a ten year study in the Amboseli, allude to elephant being able to "self regulate" their numbers. This she observed during the drought years, where elephant did not concieve and halted breeding for a period.

I don't think it wise for the layman to get involved emotionally: If you want to play a role, then visit the country, visit the KNP and allow your $$ to reach the research scientists who ultimately will determine the fate of the elephant.
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Old Nov 24th, 2005, 10:13 AM
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Oh and just to add:

Over 5 - 10 000 people ARE being culled in that area, Zimbabwe and Mugabe. Who is complaining, who is doing anything?

About a decade ago the genocide in Rwanda/Burundi went unoticed.......

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Old Nov 24th, 2005, 11:21 AM
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luangwablondes - Thanks so much for citing the article. It is excellent. Will keep it on my hard drive for re-reading. Much food for thought.

mkhonzo: thanks so much for your thoughts also.

I agree we don't face the daily challenges of living near the park. However many of us have been studying the factors and possible alternatives for years.

As you state, KNP may have been doing extensive studies (along with many other scientific groups), but ultimately it will be a political decision.

So far the suggestion I like the best is "corridors between parks" throughout Africal so the wildlife can safely traverse from one place to another. However, everyone is talking about it but no-one is doing anything about it.

The contraception they are talking about is not sterilization. It would be the same as your wife using an IUD or the patch (temporary and reversible). Dr. Douw Grobler has had great success with it thus far over five years. It is another tool to explore further.

Your statement about Cynthia Moss's experience is true. Under stress of too many elephants or too little food they do stop conceiving.

An excellent book to read is The Tsavo Story by Daphne Sheldrick. At one point Kenya wanted to cull elephants in Tsavo, and ultimately her Warden husband David decided against it. Awhile later there was a prolonged drought and many elephants died a horrible, but natural death. Had those elephants been culled earlier there would have been no elephants left in Tsavo.

There was a lot of poaching going on in Tsavo in the 1990's. In 2001 when I first went to Tsavo I could see how nervous the elephant families were. If they saw a vehicle they would run the other way. Thus I have experienced what results can happen after families are traumatized. They are gradually getting better and more trusting.

Thanks for the reminder about Rwanda and Zimbabwe. We all need to remember that.

If we who love wildlife don't get emotional and put pressure on govern-
ments, then wildlife will disappear. Some times it will work, other times it won't. In just the last two weeks the Chiang Mai Zoo has now decided not to serve wildlife on the menu because of pressure brought to bear on it by wildlife lovers throughout the world.

Jan

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Old Nov 24th, 2005, 11:35 AM
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Jan,
I like your perspective and agree that there is no conclusive resolution to what remains a challenging issue.

The corridor plan is a solution to some degree, however I believe that it is utopian at best. Unfortunately for SA land outside of the Kruger is already occupied by humanity in form or antother. The other challnege is agreeing the old migratory route. Once determined the removal of humanity is going to pose even greater political challenges than we can dream of.

Surely the peace park initiative has the best solution in the short term, by that I imply that the population can expand beyond the boubdries of the kruger primarily into Mozambique. Ultimately and over time there will be an explosion and the decision we face today will deferred for another decade or two.

I do however not believe that sanctioning the country will make a meaningful contribution, it will only escalate socio/economic problems. Perhaps the Humane society can encourge the 8 million to visit instead of boycott. SA currently recives around 60 000 American tourists a year, how many of those are members of the humane society is questionable. Maybe their bark is less than their bight and inconsequential in the greater scheme of things?

At the end of the day the problem is that of the KNP management, which has done an outstanding job of conserving a great heritage. They get my vote for being able to continue to do so. I'll satnd by their decision.
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Old Nov 24th, 2005, 12:50 PM
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Part of contraception research is being done at Makalali conservancy. Somehow their link has changed and can't locate its current one. But its nice to have places like that to balance and verify what the partys are saying.
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Old Nov 24th, 2005, 04:52 PM
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luangwablondes:

I also looked but all I see under Makalali is info on the reserve and lodges.

If you do come across the website would appreciate your posting.

Thanks again.

Jan
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Old Nov 25th, 2005, 12:01 AM
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The link from the Makalali website ("Conservancy News") is to www.makalaliresearch.co.za. But that site has been suspended because of non-payment of their renewal. (All of R50, so perhaps an oversight.) (The "whois" is at "co.za".)
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Old Nov 25th, 2005, 12:18 AM
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Unfortunately I am not well versed on this subject, but I do take issue with the Humane Society of the United States telling people to avoid South Africa, and therefore, affecting Southern Africa, as a whole.

5 MILLION cats and dogs are killed in animal "shelters" each year in the USA, many of these shelters belonging to the "Humane Society." Meanwhile, nobody from the Humane Society has ever approached me with any innovative ideas on how to help. Instead, the only time I am ever contacted is for the annual licensing fees for my dogs.

5 MILLION cats and dogs per year...one every 6 seconds. I have read that only one dog in each litter will ever spend its entire life in a home. What is the humane society doing with the genocide that happens right at home each year?

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Old Nov 25th, 2005, 03:23 AM
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Rocco:

Point well taken. However, cats and dogs have never been on the endangered list for becoming extinct. Though they are no longer endangered, because of many factors including poaching, culling and human encroachment (manmade causes) elephants need some help in order to survive. Then add in the many babies that don't make it because of falling in old wells, getting stuck in mud of waterholes, parent being shot for "problem animal control" and there are hundreds more each year which would not survive without human help. Sheldrick Trust now has a herd of almost one hundred elephant babies that they have rescued just in Kenya. Add to that the same number in each of the Africian countries and you will see what is happening.

Remember, elephants take 22 months to develop (not just 3 months as for cats and dogs), have single births (not litters) and a female only has one baby in four years and they have a lifespan equal to humans.

The death of all those cats and dogs is tragic but is not the fault of the Humane Society. It is the fault of all of us for not having our pets spade and letting them run loose where they get the chance to procreate unchecked.

Where do you live that the Humane Society benefits from you dog licensing? Everywhere I know of the licensing fees go to the local town in which you live.

Jan
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Old Nov 25th, 2005, 03:36 AM
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hi jan hope your well.this is for you.a friend from the phillipines of all places brought this to my attention just yesterday. there is collage here with an Ele pic in the top right corner. it is the last collage in the set.tell me that looks like a HEART! they way this ele has his ears spread.never thought of that before. pretty cool. oh this guy is called: MATOMBO- mastusadona park-zimbabwe. i would have to go hunting for the single pic. don't feel like it now hehe. ok take care, david
http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&x=0&y=-czltis
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Old Nov 25th, 2005, 03:49 AM
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In your original post, you say...

>>>I'm sure that if one suggested culling 5,000 - 10,000 people in that area everyone would be horrified and there would be a hue and cry worldwide, and yet because it is "just wildlife" it is alright.<<<

Yet, I feel like you are discounting the tragedy of cats and dogs. Given the fact that I have 10 pet dogs, seven of them adopted, and I have 0 pet elephants, I do tend to take the issue of 5 million dogs & cats killed each year a bit seriously.

I do think mkhonzo's points must be considered. If the elephant population is not controlled does this not lead to suffering by other wildlife? Don't forested areas get ravaged so severely that within a couple decades they then become grasslands? What happens to the species that relied on those trees?

I am very passionate about elephants but they are not the only animals in the African bush.

Hopefully another solution is found other than culling, whether it is relocating the elephants to other parks, or something entirely different.

My point was just that the Humane Society of the U.S. should be trying to do more at home before they start urging people to boycott countries, ultimately leading to serious harm to other wildlife if there are fewer tourists, not that I think it would make much of an impact if they called for the ban, but I am just annoyed that they do not weigh what the overall consequences would be. Wildlife depends on ecotourists...without ecotourism these animals, elephants and other wildlife, are as good as dead.
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Old Nov 25th, 2005, 05:20 AM
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We all are on dangerous ground:

I am making the assumption that we all are laymen on this forum, if only on this topic right now, for the argumentts are naive. If I am wrong, please correct me.

Given the level of understanding it is not difficult to appreciate the consequent emotional involvement. You/we all need to keep a sense of perspective.
To neuter/steralise, whatever the number of elephants in the park to even dent the population growth is a HUGE undertaking, requiring skill, manpower and plenty $$$. Think about it. There are in excess of 13 000 elephant roaming and wild in the park. I would guess that around 25% of that population is capable of reproducing. Assuming that the balance are youngsters, males and non reproductive others.

1) 3000 elephants concieve this year, by the end of next year you have another 3000 elephants and then it becomes an exponential equation that I am not qualified to extrapalate, suffice to say the population will probably quadruple in a decade, maybe! Brining the population close to 50 000.

2) To neuter even a fraction of the breeding population, to slow this explosion, will require around 1000 elephants being doctored NOW. How do you identify those 1000, how do you get to them and how do you administer the drug, iud's or whatever? I guess it's a helicopter, a dart, a ground crew to ensure the elephant is treated while anaethatised, blah blah, probably a team of around twenty or thirty to reach one elephant. That operation alone will probably take two hours.
8 -1 0 daylight hours, perhaps five elephant a day.
This operation is going to take a year.

Somehow I don't think it is practical.

Consider the alternates:
Relocation: Well it has been proved that removing youngsters without a matriarch is fatal. Removing a family herd perhaps more successful, have you thought what is requited to relocate a five ton elephant along with youngsters etc? Pantechnikon of note, but hey there are highways and the elephants hang around the roadside that really is a smooth operation!

Peace Parks: mmm now there is a thought.lets just string a group of parks across political boundaries together and we've solved the issue. Hey folks America is considering building a fences along it's southern boundary to keep mexicans out! So why should South Africa just be able to oopen it's border to it's neighbours? To achieve the first peace park (Bots, nam & SA) took years of negotiation and that is in a desert environment, so lets see ten years plus before the Mozambique/Kruger park can be realised = 50000 elephants happily munching on all and sundry....

I could go on. There is no easy solution and the least attractive is the Humane Society playing GOD over africa's wildlife UNTIL they are equipped with a solution and the capital to achieve it.
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Old Nov 25th, 2005, 06:18 AM
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Here is some more reading material on the issue:
http://www.environment.gov.za/newsme...0/20092005.htm
and
http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger.../Elepolicy.pdf

The second link is very technical but might interest some of you.
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Old Nov 25th, 2005, 12:32 PM
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hi there, worth reading.
thanks, david

http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/html/debate.html
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Old Nov 25th, 2005, 01:55 PM
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I appreciated the link to the SANP's elephant management plan. A rational document that is enlightening.

The Sheldrick trust piece: Brought tears to my eyes.
the auther fails to recognise that MAN is an essential element of the eco-system. The author also fails to show an understanding of "Boundered parks", which the Kruger is.

I agree with her statement on natural selection, vital to the long term diversity, however she has no opinion on "in breeding" and perhaps genetic stagnation, a concequence of well you know what!

Good reading all round, I am not convinced that culling is not the most practical route. I would urge the sale of by-products, who else is going to pay?
That is another issue that The author has, virtually making profitability a dirty word, and yet there is a nice icon on the websight for you to make a contribution, why? Money makes things go round. I regret that too!
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Old Nov 25th, 2005, 02:28 PM
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The contradiction here is we now want to penalize those countries, parks, programs that have successfully managed their elephants, and we don't trust them to continue to do so. Don't you think they have looked at all the alternatives. They don't have an infinite amount of cash to throw at the problem. But we know this isn't right and criticize them for doing what maybe the most humane solution in the long run because noone else has come up with a viable solution. Ouch, I didn't say that. Wishing the excess elephants to move into the Moz section of the new Transfrontier park is great, but how do you get them to stay.
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Old Nov 25th, 2005, 02:55 PM
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Too true, i don't think that the overflow into Mozambique will be an issue. That it is IMO the best solution for now. Gives science a reasonable chance of finding new technology, gives research a reprieve and another twenty years of study, so maybe the pressure needs to be exerted on the politicians to hurry uup and get their collective acts together??
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Old Nov 25th, 2005, 06:31 PM
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Province - thanks for the Sanspark website. Very interesting. Will re-read it this weekend.

Dave - I see what you mean about the picture.

Mkhonzo - the inbreeding you mention isn't too great a problem because the matriarchs chase the family males away from the herds at puberty. Even young males playing who mount their sisters are admonished by the older females.

You mention the credit card donations to the website. I can assure you that this woman is not lining her pockets with what she derives in contributions. She has over 100 keepers to take care of all the orphaned elephants and rhinos through the years when they finally "go and stay wild". She has veterinary care for all the orphans. She also has the veterinarian take care of all injured and ill animals in Tsavo and Aboseli. On many occasions she has purchased gasoline for Kenya Wildlife Service and parts for their anti-poaching planes. There is a big difference between raising money to help maintain wildlife and that of lining your pockets from the proceeds of taking wildlife.

Translocation is still an option for some of these animals. Kenya just translocated 150 elephants in less than a month from Shimba Hills to Tsavo (approximately 150 miles) and they planned to do another 150 - 200 starting in January. Time will tell how well they adjust to the new area or whether they attempt to return home. As you state though, it is an expense, though I'm not sure how they arrive at their figures. After all, they already have the equipment on hand, they are already paying the salaries of the wildlife service. Yes, they need to pay for M-99 and fuel to truck the animals. Would love to see a breakdown of how they arrive at costs.

Thanks to all for your thoughts. Really appreciate hearing different points of view.

Jan
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