Who doesn’t love a baby elephant?

Elephants are great. They are wrinkly and sparsely, and therefore like us. They have wide, deep eyes that seem to leak out with very true emotions. Their babies are floppy, and playful, and rambunctious and a bit too clumsy, therefore reminding me of myself. If I had the opportunity, I would love to go to Africa and watch them in the wild, those big massive things on their spindly little legs.

Unfortunately, in recent times, elephant populations of southern Africa may have gotten too big for their britches.  The government of South Africa is now sanctioning culling of the herds in certain situations, and animal rights activists are in an uproar.  Part of this is due to the worldwide status of elephants as threatened species, despite the large numbers in South African countries.  Another part is due to their similarity to us, along with apes and dolphins.

While I completely understand the first point, there is some question as to how to remedy the situation.  Transportation to other countries would be difficult at best.  And the number of elephants is reaching a point where human populations and needs are threatened as well.  What do we do in this case?  Turn South Africa into a giant game park and move all the people elsewhere?  As for the second point, it’s true that even I feel a special affinity towards elephants.   But they aren’t people.  And if I have to choose between them and some other highly intelligent animal, I’m going to pick the one that doesn’t literally eat a ton of food every day.

Finally, there is some question as to whether or not culling will even work.  Critics state that nearby populations will simply produce more and fill the area left vacant by the other animals.  This may be true, and if so, there need to be serious looks taken into other containment methods.  If not, there’s only a few other possible results – herds of starving elephants, negative human-elephant interactions resulting in death and injury on both sides, and elephants becoming huge pests ot agriculture.  And none of these are situations i would like to contemplate.

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2 Comments

  1. Alex said,

    February 29, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    I find it a little odd, or maybe incongruous, that you would have a post supporting more ‘green’ or natural eating yet you would pick the humans over animals when they butt heads. Animals pretty much by definition fit into Nature; if human needs are being threatened, it means that people have encroached into environments they weren’t prepared for yet.

  2. sedgehammer said,

    February 29, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    I can see that. But the reality is we’re humans, and we do have an environmental impact. We can try and minimize that impact, but that doesn’t mean I think we should all just kill ourselves to make space for nature either.


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