South Africa has proposed the culling (i.e. killing) of half of its elephant population (approximately 6,400 elephants) in its famous Kruger National Park in order to protect vegetation from a perceived threat of overpopulation of elephants.  The planned method of culling is to herd the elephants into groups using helicopters, and then gunning down the elephants from the air.

Thousands of tourists travel to Kruger National Park to view wildlife in their natural habitat.  South Africa depends on tourism to supports its economy.

Because of the inherent cruelty in elephant culling, the practice was banned in South Africa since 1994. 

The proposal to begin elephant culling is based on faulty science, published by non-scientists and based largely on observation instead of scientific research.  There is no credible, scientific evidence showing that the elephants are destroying the park’s biodiversity.

Qualified scientists have developed a more effective and humane method of protecting vegetation from elephant herds—allowing a greater migration of elephants between parks and countries in Southern Africa.  This can be done by the creation of a network of connected protected areas or “megaparks.”  Kruger National Park is already part of a trans-boundary initiative linking it to national parks in Mozambique and eventually Zimbabwe. 

Scientists have also proposed targeted contraception to keep the elephant population in check. 

The confinement of elephant herds in a relatively small area, such as Kruger National Park, means that the natural factors controlling elephant populations (e.g. draught) can no longer operate.  This could lead to overpopulation of elephants in a specific, confined area. 

The South African Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, is due to make a final decision regarding elephant culling by the end of the year.  Please contact Minister Van Schalkwyk and the South African Ambassador in the U.S. Barbara Masekela and urge them to use a more humane method of controlling elephant herds, such as contraception or the network of corridors.  Tell him that culling in cruel and unacceptable. 

To contact the Minister,

Her Excellency Barbara Joyce Masekela
Ambassador of South Africa
Embassy of South Africa
3051 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
202-265-1607 (fax)

For more information on this issue, including what you can do to sway the opinion of South African officials,