Science – not guns – sought for management of South Africa’s elephants

Wednesday, 7 March, 2007
Cape Town, South Africa
The government of South Africa has announced that it will reach out to the scientific community to explore new options for the management of South Africa’s elephant populations, a decision that has garnered strong support from the conservation community, including IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – This represents a significant and positive shift for South Africa’s elephant management policies, which had historically defaulted to culling.
In making the announcement, South Africa’s Minister of Environment and Tourism, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, said that his department would commit an initial five million rand ($675,000 or 514,000 Euros) to explore science-based options for the management of South Africa’s elephant populations. The news was welcomed by IFAW experts who have campaigned against the culling of elephants.
“IFAW believes that non-culling solutions to elephant population management do exist, and it is our hope that, with supporting evidence from the scientific community, the South African government will come to the same conclusion and spare our elephants from a deadly cull,” said IFAW’s Southern Africa Regional Director, Jason Bell-Leask.
“Some international media have reported that South Africa is moving forward with an elephant cull,” added Bell-Leask. “This is simply untrue. While culling has not been ruled out altogether, it is not going forward at this time. IFAW is very pleased that the Minister has taken the step to invest in scientific research, and we dearly hope this indicates a long-term intention to ensure an ethical approach to elephant management,” added Bell-Leask.
IFAW has supported scientific elephant research projects in Southern Africa for more than a decade. Some studies have determined that man-made factors such as placement of artificial water holes and fencing are among those to blame for locally high numbers of elephants. More information is available in IFAW’s report, The Debate on Elephant Culling in South Africa – an Overview, which may be downloaded at

*IFAW’s publication The Debate on Elephant Culling in South Africa – an Overview (2005) is available in pdf format on or please telephone should you require a printed copy.

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