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Monday, 4 September, 2000, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
SA elephants transfer to Angola
African elephants
Poachers have wiped out most of Angola's elephants
A wildlife park in South Africa is to donate part of its excess elephant population to Angola in a move which is being criticised by animal welfare organisations.

The North West Parks and Tourism Board told the Reuters news agency that the relocation of the animals, expected next weekend, "would help revitalise the Angolan economy".


Moving elephants to areas where they traditionally occurred is a great thing... We just want their security ensured.

International Fund for Animal Welfare Spokesman Jason Bell
It did not say how many elephants would be moved, but elephants introduced from Zimbabwe and Kruger National Park to Madikwe Game Reserve in north-west South Africa have thrived in recent years.

Two family groups of elephants are to be moved from there to Quicama National Park, 60km (37 miles) south of the Angolan capital, Luanda.

During Angola's ongoing 25-year civil war, elephants have been all but wiped out by poaching.

The Unita rebel movement killed huge numbers of Angola's elephants and rhino in the 1980s, with stories of anti-tank mines being used to kill the elephants.

Minefields

Animal rights activists, such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare, are concerned that with Angola still at war and huge numbers of land mines laid in the country the safety of the imported elephants will be hard to guarantee.

Map of southern Africa
Angola is estimated to have the greatest concentration of landmines in the world - perhaps seven million - and about 70,000 Angolans are believed to have lost limbs as a result of landmine explosions.

IFAW spokesman Jason Bell called on the Parks Board to ensure that elephants would be taken to areas with adequate resources to prevent poaching.

"Obviously one of the concerns is that they are moving them to Angola and we know what the political situation is like there," he said.

"We know that elephants have been poached to virtual local extinction in most parts of Angola."

A number of wildlife parks in South Africa have reached saturation point in their elephant population - and relocation is seen by many as the best alternative to culling.

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See also:

04 Apr 00 | Africa
Ivory trade: Horns of a dilemma
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