Ele­phant num­bers

The Field - - Letters -

I agree whole­heart­edly with Roger Field’s ar­ti­cle about the new leg­is­la­tion re­gard­ing ivory [Ivory own­ers: a crim­i­nal class?, Oc­to­ber is­sue]. This will not save the life of a sin­gle ele­phant.

That ele­phants are be­ing poached is beyond doubt but the hoo-ha that re­sults from the le­gal hunt­ing of a sin­gle an­i­mal, with the ap­pro­pri­ate per­mit, is to­tally un­jus­ti­fied. It seems that the an­i­mal rights bri­gade deem it un­ac­cept­able for sov­er­eign na­tions to man­age their wildlife in a man­ner that re­sults in the death of a sin­gle ele­phant. The mes­sage that these or­gan­i­sa­tions put over is that they want to save the African ele­phant from ex­tinc­tion but the re­al­ity is that in Africa the ele­phant is nowhere near ex­tinc­tion. In some coun­tries in East Africa the pop­u­la­tions have de­clined sig­nif­i­cantly due to poach­ing, but in south­ern Africa there are far too many ele­phants. In 2013, the gov­ern­ment of Botswana counted more than 200,000 ele­phants, the same sur­vey re­veal­ing that all other species have de­clined by 60% to 90%. Ele­phants are de­struc­tive feed­ers, have no nat­u­ral preda­tors and will dou­ble in pop­u­la­tion in un­der 10 years. The re­sult of this will be a huge loss of bio­di­ver­sity in ar­eas with large ele­phant pop­u­la­tions.

Is this what our gen­er­a­tion wants, or should we en­cour­age the management of sus­tain­able ele­phant pop­u­la­tions in the in­ter­est of bio­di­ver­sity?

Lind­say Jamieson Sher­borne, Dorset

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