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Last Updated: Monday March 03 2008 05:39 GMT

Should elephants be culled?

African elephants

The Government of South Africa says it will think about allowing some elephants to be killed as it says there are too many of the big beasts in the country.

The plan to kill or 'cull' elephants has divided opinion in South Africa.

African elephants have been protected since 1995, but the ban on hunting them will be lifted on 1 May.

Press Packers Quintin and Erin both live in South Africa, but have different opinions on the matter.


I think the cull is needed to save the environment.

"At first I thought culling elephants was cruel and heartless, but after much research I have altered my opinion.

Since elephants have no natural predators and are thriving in the Kruger National Park, their numbers are far greater than the eco-system can sustain.

The damage to decade-old trees is very great and I have seen this myself on trips to the park.

Giraffes

Elephants are unfortunately not the only animals who are dependant on trees for food. What about the kudu, which is a type of antelope, and the giraffe?

Alternatives such as relocation and medicine to stop elephants having babies are too costly and also place great physical stress on the animals.

Relocation would be the best option, but elephants need to be placed in huge game reserves where they would have enough food and be safe from poachers.

We do not have enough of such land.

Painless

I think that if elephants must be culled, it must be done in a humane and painless way.

I also think that the whole herd must be culled as they pine for families just as humans do.

This is very sad, but I think it must be done to preserve the environment for all the other animals and for the elephants that are alive."

Erin, 13, South Africa

I think the elephants should not be killed!

"I'm aware of the fact that the over-population of elephants has become a problem, but it can be solved.

However, the solution is not by culling elephants and ruining our natural wildlife.

It is not the elephants' fault that we humans must now consider options about their future.

Man invaded their territory and put up fences to establish ownership rights and political boundaries.

More freedom

It is our problem now to increase the size of South African nature reserves as well as establishing reserves that cross into other countries.

We now have to destroy life due to the fact that we created a problem which we cannot solve.

Given more territory and freedom to roam, elephants will control their own numbers naturally.

We are in the fortunate position that our country is one of the few in the world to have elephants.

Moving on

Why can't we rather ship the elephants to countries where they are scarce or extinct?

Elephants are very intelligent animals and will understand what is going on around them. Like us humans they might forgive, but they'll never forget.

Elephants have a very good memory and the survivors will be traumatised for the rest of their lives.

My final reason is that when they cull the elephants they just shoot them randomly instead of shooting the older ones first.

I think it's impractical and cruel to begin culling elephants again.

I think it better for South Africa to be remembered for its wildlife rather than for its culling of elephants."

Quintin, 11, South Africa