Science Gets the Green Light to Determine Ethical Elephant Management

Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Cape Town, South Africa
Government’s decision to let science rule when it comes to the management of South Africa’s elephant populations has received a resounding thumbs up.
IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) said the announcement today by the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, that his department would commit an initial R5-million to an elephant research project was a positive sign that government was determined to allow science and not emotion take the lead in its management plans.
 
The announcement came ahead of the publication of the Draft Norms and Standards for Elephant Management.
 
“While culling as a method of population control has not been ruled out altogether, we are very pleased that the Minister has decided to depend on the help of the scientific community in eventually making his decisions,” said IFAW’s Southern Africa Director, Jason Bell-Leask.
 
“It is extremely laudable that government has taken the step to actually invest in research, and we dearly hope this indicates a long-term intention to ensure an ethical approach to elephant management.”
 
IFAW has supported scientific research projects on elephants in Southern Africa for more than a decade.
 
The announcement comes in the wake of mounting evidence to suggest that the management of elephants cannot be considered in a vacuum. “Let’s hope the Norms and Standards provide the necessary framework to reconcile scientific principles with economic, political, social and aesthetic considerations,” said Bell-Leaks.
 
The Draft Norms and Standards for Elephant Management are to be released for public comment on Friday, March 2. 

* The full report and pdfs of IFAW’s report The Debate on Elephant Culling in South Africa – an Overview may be downloaded from www.ifaw.org.

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