Kruger elephants staring at death

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The Independent Online
Elephants living in South Africa's Kruger National Park may face annual slaughter again. The National Parks Board this week insisted on keeping an option to cull the animals after suspending shootings last year.

The elephants had been shot each year since the 1960s to hold down their rapid population growth. Meanwhile, animal lovers overseas argued there was no justification and the slaughter severely traumatised the huge mammals. Now the board is reviewing its policies, trying to decide whether a population higher than the park's 8,000 animals is sustainable and whether taking elephants to other reserves, using different land management methods, or even contraception for female elephants can help.

The review continues, but at a meeting with representatives of local communities, the board's head of research, Dr Anthony Martin-Hall, said culling must remain an option.

Photograph: Brian Harris