Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on May 4, 2009
South Africa looks at their growing population of Elephants as giant rats who need to be controlled. This giant rat population has now been official marked for death and the shooting season is open for all the big game hunters out there. The good old times are back, right? How crazy is this? Can South Africa really be sliding back down the wrong side of history? They seem to be very short sighted when it comes to cleaning up their country and improving the lives of their human and animal populations.
Elephants live in very complex family groups. Killing family members at random is not only cruel, but destroys the natural learning and maturing process for the surviving members. When the oldest largest members are killed, they die with vast amount of knowledge, the younger generation needs, to survive. It’s even been shown in studies, younger elephants seem to go a little crazy from the anxiety of not being guided by senior members of the family.
One of the risks over over-conservation is the potential for over-population. And the decisions that have to be made once the “damage” is done. Of course, that all depends on your definition of “damage”. While an abundance of an animal species in the wild certainly poses a threat to other species, if you believe in the natural order of things and the fact that nature has survived for millions of years without human interference, it makes South Africa’s controversial decision to kill excess elephants seemvery ill advised.
The country banned elephant culling back in 1994 over extinction concerns. But now that the animal’s population has surged to 18,000 in the country (totaling 600,000 throughout the continent), the environmental ministry says the area’s biodiversity and ecosystem are at risk and that an as-of-yet undecided amount of elephants will have to be killed, a plan that Bob Scholes of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research called reasonable and “inescapable”.
One of the arguments tossed into this debate is that the elephant has no natural predators to help balance the population. But does that warrant an unnatural predator? Studies have shown that elephants experience pain and the trauma of separation from family.
“They may be conscious of suffering in other elephants, they may have a knowledge of the ‘other’ that puts them low down but on the path to some kind of self-consciousness,” Mr. Scholes was quoted as saying by the UK’s Telegraph. “They are higher than most animals but lower than humans.”
Animal rights activists have threatened to call for a tourist boycott of South Africa, but that seems hardly comforting for the elephant. Call it the unnatural order of things, call it man playing God however you slice it, there has got to be a better way.