Harare, imb imbabwe – Africa’s elephant population is declining dangerously, but not in Zimbabwe.
Authorities in South Africa estimate that the number of mammoth mammals currently stands at just over 100,000, up from 84,000 in 2014, when the last census was conducted, for a carrying capacity of about 45,000.
In recent weeks, the surplus has prompted the government to consider mass-killing elephants, most recently in 1988, as a way of controlling the population to protect wildlife as well as the country’s vegetation.
“We are overcrowded with elephants in this country,” said Tinashe Pharaoh, spokeswoman for ZimParks Wildlife Parks in Imbabwe.
Authorities say the growing elephant population poses a risk to other animals, leading to habitat destruction, an increase in dangerous human-wildlife interactions, and dozens of deaths in recent years.
“We have eagles that breed in trees. Eagles no longer breed in Hwange (National Park); “They moved to other places because elephants have a habit of knocking down trees,” said Pharaoh.
He noted that the program is still in the “development phase” և the final decision has yet to be made, but stressed that the deletion is allowed under the laws of Zimbabwe.
But the Natural Resources Management Center (CNRG), the Zimbabwean environmental և human rights watchdog documenting poaching, has opposed the plan.
“The extermination will eventually lead to the extermination of these elephants,” spokesman Simiso Mlevu told Al Jazeera.
“This is just the beginning,” he said. “Very soon we will have to go to other countries just to see an elephant.”
Earlier this year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the African forest elephant as “extremely endangered” and the African savannah elephant as “endangered”, citing rising poaching and habitat loss for declining numbers.
According to the latest estimates of a group living in Switzerland, the number of African forest elephants has decreased by more than 86% in 31 years. Meanwhile, over the past half century, the population of African savannah elephants has declined by at least 60 percent.
Bimbabwe is home to the continent’s second-largest elephant population after Botswana, which boasts one-third of Africa’s remaining 415,000 elephants.
In addition to slaughter, another imbabwe’s option is to relocate elephants from densely populated areas. But both are hampered by a lack of funds, says Pharaoh.
“It is an expensive process, we do not have money now,” he added. “In 2018, we transported 100 elephants. The exercise cost us $ 400,000.”
Pharaoh said ZimParks, a government agency, requires at least $ 25 million a year to operate. But since 2001, the body has not received funding from the imbabwe treasury government.
Pharaoh said his organization needed revenue to save the elephants, but his finances hit hard in 2020 as the coronavirus epidemic hit the country’s tourism industry hard.
In late April, Zimbabwe announced plans to sell hunting licenses to kill 500 elephants to make money. Predatory hunters are expected to pay $ 10,000 to $ 70,000, depending on the size of the elephant.
The quota for hunting 500 elephants, which is separate from the extinction program, is allowed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), according to Pharaoh, who says “elephants must pay for their conservation.” ,
“Elephants also have to take care of themselves, so we have to be allowed to trade to make that happen,” Pharaoh said.
«[This] It means that money must be made and the elephants must earn money. “Tourism is dead right now, so people don’t come to see the elephants.”
But CNRG’s Mlevu says the deletion will affect tourism. Position Imbabwe’s prominent economist John von Robertson’s response.
“It is seriously damaging wildlife,” Robertson told Al Jazeera. “The loss of wildlife also reduces the tourism prospects on which the country has high hopes.”
Audrey Delsink, director of Humane Society International / Africa Wildlife, says killing elephants “has a traumatic effect on the rest of the population.” He said that was why the South African authorities were using contraception as a way to control the population.
Noting that 76% of the elephant population in Africa crosses borders, Delsink told Al Jazeera: “Mismanagement actions can lead to massive aftershocks, ripples that extend beyond the target area, area or population.
“Therefore, the election of Zimbabwe can have devastating consequences for transitory elephants. Apparently, the situation in Zimbabwe is not the number of elephants, but the financing of the governing body. Elephants are just a means to an end. ”