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Last Updated: Tuesday March 18 2008 18:42 GMT

Animal expert backs elephant cull

Elephants in South Africa

A top wildlife expert has given his backing to a plan to re-start the mass killing of elephants in South Africa.

Dr Richard Leakey was part of an old campaign to end elephant culling, and a ban came in 1994.

But now he says we need to strike a balance between humans and elephants.

He said that although he found the idea of killing elephants horrible, he could "see the sense in it, (in some scenarios)".

He stressed that the cull should only be done as part of a sensible programme.

In some parts of South Africa, people have complained that the animals are dangerous, and that they eat crops and drink people's water.

Nelly facts
Dr Leakey also said that there is a responsibility to keep a watch on human activities that have an effect on the habitat of the elephants.

The government in South Africa says it will back a cull of the creatures, but only if other ways of controlling the animals have failed to work.

Since the ban, the number of elephants has rocketed.

It's thought numbers have gone up from 8,000 to 18,000 animals.

Live in harmony

But Will Travers, from the wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation said culling elephants was a terrible idea.

He said: "First of all there's actually plenty of space in South Africa for elephants.

"Secondly there are lots of things that we can do to reduce the conflict between elephants and people so that they can live in harmony."