Elephants: Perceptions vs. Reality

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Desertrat, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Jul 4, 2003
    Terlingua, Texas
    From time to time I encounter those who believe the elephant is an endangered species. And all of us have some concern for the plight of poor people here and there around the world. This recent article from the "National" of the UAE offers a real-world view of a serious problem:

    "Booming elephant population wreaks havoc in Zimbabwe

    Thulani Mpofu, Foreign Correspondent

    * Last Updated: December 23. 2009 12:05AM UAE / December 22. 2009 8:05PM

    KENNILWORTH // An increasing elephant population is forcing the animals from
    wildlife reserves and into greater contact with people, leading to an
    economic and environmental crisis in parts of Zimbabwe where some are
    calling for greater numbers of the animals to be culled.

    The World Wide Fund for Nature and African Wildlife Foundation estimate that
    Zimbabwe has 110,000 elephants, above the optimum capacity of between 45,000 and 50,000. For communities living next to the wildlife reserves where the elephants are flourishing, the increased numbers are proving dangerous,
    destroying farmland, driving people from their homes and, at times,
    trampling people to death.

    In Kennilworth, 90km north of the capital Bulawayo, Relney Nqadini, a
    villager, has started planting crops during torrential rains on his plot.
    But harvests in this area are dependent not only on how much it rains, but
    also whether elephants will spare the villagers' fields.

    "In April this year, they ate all my crops, just as I was about to harvest,"
    said Mr Nqadini. "Days of labour came to nothing as they [elephants]
    destroyed everything we had planted. Even if it rains the way it is doing
    now, this is not a guarantee for a good harvest."

    The elephants that raid Kennilworth come from the nearby Debshan Ranch and
    Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe's largest animal sanctuary.

    "They raid our fields at night," he said. "So we build bonfires and beat
    drums to try to scare them away but they soon get used to the tricks."
    Another villager in the area, Luke Mupengesi, said: "Sometimes if we make
    fires, they get irritable and attack us, so we flee our homes into the

    When elephants raid their area, villagers seek help from Bubi rural district
    council, the only authority that can kill problem animals in the area. But
    often, Mr Mupengesi said, council officials are out of bullets for shooting
    the animals or fuel to drive to their hideouts.

    The elephant problem in Kennilworth is mirrored in other areas across
    Zimbabwe. The elephant population is concentrated in the Hwange, Gonarezhou and Chizarira national parks, but there are a significant number in private conservancies.

    Morris Mutsambiwa, the director-general of the Parks and Wildlife Management
    Authority, said the population is rising by five per cent every year. He
    said that due to their increasing numbers, elephants are not only a danger
    to the environment, human beings and other wildlife, but to themselves."

    So not only are the elephants not endangered as a species, but the population is over twice the carrying capacity of the land. And the political structure of Zimbabwe is such that little or nothing can be done--and in a country where starvation is practically the norm, nature herself is adding to the problem.

    But Mugabe can jet his way to Copenhagen...
  2. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
    There have been elephant culls in parts of Africa, I guess Zimbabwe is too unstable to organise one easily...
  3. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 4, 2003
    Terlingua, Texas
    Culling some 60,000 elephants strikes me as being a bit of a chore...

    The person who first found this article is an experienced hunter, with numerous trips to Africa. He commented that cull-hunts are now the cheapest way to go. "You will be charged by cows, and you will do a bit of running and dodging. It's not for the faint of heart."

    Dodging three tons of POed critter that can outrun a horse definitely is not for the faint of heart. :)
  4. red42 macrumors regular

    Jan 9, 2009
    They should sell them, we'd love to have them in England running around council estates.
  5. zap2 macrumors 604


    Mar 8, 2005
    Washington D.C
    Not saying they aren't but endangered species only is in reference to a certain area in regards to a certain animal...so while they're may be to many in Zimbabwe, that doesn't mean the elephant can't be endangered in other areas of Africa(that place is HUGE)
  6. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 4, 2003
    Terlingua, Texas
    The endangerment is due solely to politics. In those areas where the money is available for protection against poaching--as from hunters' license fees--the herds grow or are stable. Anti-hunting efforts have enabled the poaching for sale of ivory into China and the mideast.

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