Numbers Soaring, S. Africa Mulls Elephant Cull

In 13 years since killing ban, overpopulation posing serious threat
By Lev Weinstein,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2008 2:19 PM CDT
An elephant lumbers through Kruger National Park in South Africa in this Sept. 2003 file photo.   (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
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(Newser) – South Africa's 1995 ban on culling elephants has proven wildly successful—perhaps too successful, writes Karen Lange in National Geographic. As the population has skyrocketed from 8,000 to 13,000 in the years since, starving elephants are now ravaging vegetation and taxing the nation's ecosystem, forcing experts to consider the unthinkable: a fresh wave of killing.

The government's newest policy, enacted in May, allows culling as a last resort. Permission to do so, however, would take years to get, though many experts fear that the process will prove necessary given logistical difficulties and expenses involved in less violent solutions. "Culling has to happen at some stage," said one specialist, "I can't imagine it will be a long time."