Thousands of Kruger Elephants Face Slaughter


Culling elephants in Kruger National Park lacks scientific justification. There are more humane options.

Thousands of elephants in South Africa’s Kruger National Park need your help.

The largest land mammal on earth, elephants are extremely intelligent, social and grieve tremendously for the loss of family members. Can you imagine these majestic creatures being herded into family groups by helicopters, and then shot in the head by marksmen?

This population control measure by lethal means (called a cull) is exactly what is being proposed by South Africa National Parks (SANParks) in order to protect the vegetation of the park from a perceived overpopulation of elephants. But culling is a cruel, unethical and scientifically unsound practice that does not consider the welfare implications to elephant society as a whole, which is why it has been banned in South Africa since an international outcry halted the practice in 1994.

Speak out against the mass killings of elephants now

Culling has been heavily criticised by many independent scientists, some of whom are considered to be the most reputable scientists working on elephant biology and population dynamics in Southern Africa. Very little is actually known about the impacts that elephants are having on biodiversity in the Park. Published ‘evidence’ of the destruction caused by elephants comes from non-scientists and is based largely on observation.

There is a better way. A way that relies on nature itself to manage elephant populations and reduce any impact large elephant herds could potentially have on vegetation in national parks.

By allowing a greater migration of elephant groups between parks and countries in southern Africa, i.e. the creation of a network of connected protected areas or ‘megaparks,’ elephant populations can be managed by natural forces such as drought. In fact, Kruger is already part of a trans-boundary initiative linking it to national parks in Mozambique and eventually Zimbabwe.

We have squeezed elephants into small reserves in which, in many cases, the natural factors controlling elephant populations can no longer operate. A series of conservation networks that include differing landscapes and conditions — some ideal and some non-ideal for elephants — can restore conditions that give rise to natural mortalities. Elephants would benefit, people would benefit and so would the revenues raised by tourists wanting to view the magnificent sight of herds of roaming elephants.

No proof means NO CULL

Sound science should be informing the management of the Kruger National Park. By dealing with elephants in short-term isolation, SANParks is not considering a holistic approach to the management of the Park’s resources. A cull will also tarnish South Africa’s image as a reputable wildlife destination.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism is due to make a final decision on elephant culling by the end of the year. That’s why we need you to send South Africa a message urging the government to reject culling elephants in Kruger National Park right now.


It is said that elephants never forget. Let’s make sure South Africa doesn’t forget why it banned the culling of elephants in the first place.

Thanks for all you do,

Fred O’Regan President and CEO

P.S. Culling elephants in Kruger National Park is a quick-fix solution for reducing elephant populations that lacks scientific justification. There are more humane options, such as contraception and larger migratory boundaries, yet to be fully explored. Please speak out now to stop the mass slaughter of these highly intelligent and emotional creatures.


IFAW © 2005


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November 2005

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