Thursday, March 01, 2007

Where Are the Poachers When You Need Them?

South Africa’s environment minister offered a new plan on Wednesday to control the nation’s booming elephant population that contemplates resuming the much-criticized killing of excess animals, but only after thorough scientific study and as a last resort.

Mr. van Schalkwyk’s proposal, unveiled at a crowded elephant reserve in the nation’s southeast, appeared to defuse for now a looming confrontation between environmentalists and game managers over ways to manage the nation’s 20,000 elephants, a major tourist attraction and, in some parks, a growing headache.

National park officials have already considered a mass killing, or culling, of elephants in Kruger National Park, South Africa’s biggest and best-known wildlife reserve. They contended that the park, with a population of at least 12,500 elephants, could support only 7,500. Some conservationists have agreed, saying that preserving the park’s biological diversity is more important than saving elephants.
The conservation of elephants in South Africa has worked too well. I wonder what was the elephants' natural predator that kept their populations in check before?

Here is a crazy idea that no one will support, but that will solve the problem. What if you auctioned off the rights to hunt the 5,000 extra elephants? You could then take that money and use it to support the national park or protect elephants that are endangered in other parts of the world. Instead of paying someone to cull the elephants or perform elephant contraception, you charge someone for the right to do it. This is similar to what is (was?) happening with polar bear hunting rights.

via NY Times

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