Despite several conservation groups and animal rights’ activists’ continued efforts, culling remains an acceptable and even preferred method of controlling the elephant population. Wildlife management frequently requires that large numbers of these animals be slaughtered in one massive campaign to rid an area of excess elephants because of limited space or human settlements creeping into the animal’s territory. Another (less common) reason for culling these animals would be to rid the present population of some sort of disease or illness and to prevent others from contracting it.
In South Africa, culling was banned in 1995. Thereafter, there appeared to be an explosion of the numbers of elephants in smaller and smaller areas. Culling has since been reintroduced as an acceptable method of reducing the numbers as other methods were not proving viable or effective.
In the case of elephants, it is recommended that entire herds be culled at once. This prevents orphaned juveniles and grieving parents. However, the park or farm frequently chooses to cull the adults of the herd, and then sell the orphans to zoos or circuses. While the farmer benefits financially, this leads to a generation that has not benefitted from the discipline and important life training that they would ordinarily receive from their elders. Without this discipline, this generation becomes unruly and even dangerous, often displaying unpredictable behaviour towards humans and other animals.
Anti-culling groups generally demand that birth control be implemented and the killing of animals stopped. However, that is a long-term solution to a present problem. In these cases, culling is considered to be the only viable short-term solution. It is also less costly than relocating the animals and can, in fact, be fairly lucrative as tusks leather and live juveniles are sold for a profit.
In the face of continued opposition from animal rights’ groups and activists, experts maintain that culling is frequently the only solution to a growing problem. There are, however, many negative implications created by such a rash and indiscriminate slaughter of such powerful, intelligent and valuable creatures. Whether these manifest themselves immediately or generations into the future, it is inconceivable that such interference with nature could hold no implications for the future.
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