Thousands of Baby Elephants Starve Every Year – Too Many for National Parks
Part of a reply to someone who recently vilified me.
I cannot believe, for example, that you will condone the starving of thousands of baby elephants every year – which happens because there are too many elephants in southern Africa’s game reserves.
What has happened over the last 60 years in southern Africa is that the elephant population numbers have doubled, and then redoubled, and doubled again – every 10 years – until, NOW, there are some 10 or 20 times the numbers of elephants in our national parks that they can sustainably carry.
And year after year, the elephants have eaten more and more plants (because at the height of every dry season – when food is NOW difficult to find – they have become ever more hungry). Indeed, in our part of the world, during the months of August, September and October, there is NOW practically nothing left for the elephants to eat at the height of every dry season.
And every day the herds travel 25 kilometres away from their water supply on search of food; and that same day they have to walk 25 kms back to their water.
The amount of energy they use up each day – moving between their water and wherever it is they are finding anything to eat (25 kms away); and back to the water (because at that time of the year temperatures rocket into the 40s and 50s (degrees C) and they HAVE to drink) – is greater than the energy they obtain from the poor quality food that they can find to eat.
They are embroiled, therefore, in a starvation regime that sees the elephants losing weight (they often become just skin-and-bone) – and eventually they die of starvation (malnutrition).
The worst thing that happens, however, is that mother elephants stop lactating (because they have the added task of feeding themselves AND producing enough milk to feed their babies).
Without their mother’s milk, the baby elephants then lack the energy to keep up with their mothers on their long (25 km x2) daily treks; so their mothers are forced to abandon them.
The babies, now all alone, wander about the game reserve looking for their mothers; and looking for something to eat (even though they are then not yet weaned); and often looking was water to drink.
Most of these babies are ripped to death by hyenas and lions, and they are eaten by these big predators.
It should be one of the main tasks of a national park’s wildlife manager to make sure that elephant numbers never reach this level of desperate living.
Culling reduces the number of elephants and so provides extra food during the dry season on which the remaining elephants can survive without having to endure the tragedy of watching their babies starve to death.
Culling is not an easy subject to contemplate. It is even worse to perform. But it is vitally necessary to properly manage our national parks. And it does not help anybody if you are wandering around being and looking remorseful. Some things just HAVE to be done; and they cannot be done by people who don’t have the intestinal fortitude to get such jobs done.
Chew over this set of circumstances a bit, and – if there are issues that you still don’t understand – get back to me and I will try to explain them all. I have spent my whole adult life (60 years) in the service of Africa’s wildlife. I have not been in this profession because I wanted to kill them. I HAD to kill elephants – and many other wild animals – because it was my job as a game ranger to do so. But I never bought a license to hunt elephants; and I was NEVER a trophy hunter. I would like you to understand all this. I would rather have you as a friend – than to have you as my enemy. More than anything else, however, I would like you become a True Friend of Africa’s wildlife – and that you will help others to “see the light” with regard to wildlife’s proper management.
2 thoughts on “Thousands of Baby Elephants Starve Every Year – Too Many for National Parks”
Evidentially the situation is urgent, as it is dire. As a person with a deep love for elephants and all the other beautiful wildlife of Africa, but a person who is looking in from the outside, lacking experience, and intimate knowledge of the problems facing all inhabitants, I am asking if some of the following strategies other than culling have been considered. Is it not possible to expand the boundaries of elephant habitat to include sufficient water sources, and if not then why 2) has any research been done to find a viable birth control medication that. can be applied with a dart gun, such as that which is being tried with wild mustangs in the US? 3) Could there be the possibility of an international African Wildlife foundation that would be funded by nations around the world to help replant forests, and grasslands, create reservoirs for water, erect barriers to keep wildlife away from cities and farms, and subsidize farmers for crop losses? As I mentioned, I believe other wealthier nations as could and should help financially, and to find any and all non lethal strategies to support the Africa and all her inhabitants loved by the entire world. This would include replanting forests and fields both to add moisture to the air to bring on rain, to cool the land, to provide forage, reverser the soil, and to sequester carbon. Also the funding would include infrastructure and technology to keep animals out of villages and farms, and hopefully to develop humane birth control techniques. This international Foundation to support the African people, wildlands and wildlife would advocate to governments of the world for financial aide, expert consultation, and hands on labor to help replant , irrigate and build
DEAR LYNNE,THIS IS A COMPLICATED SUBJECT AND YOU ARE CLEARLY NOT AWARE OF THE TOTAL PICTURE. WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT OF A NATIONAL PARK HAPPENS QUITE NATURALLY WHEN YOU HAVE YOUR SOIL, THE PLANTS AND THE ANIMALS IN BALANCE. AND THE PRINCIPLE OBJECTIVE IS TO MAINTAIN THE NATIONAL PARKS
SPECIES DIVERSITY. IT IS NOT ABOUT “ELEPHANTS” OR “LIONS” OR ANY OTHER ANIMAL SPECIES (ON ITS OWN). WE DON’T REPLANT THE TREES WHEN THE ELEPHANT KILLS TOO MANY TREES. THE WAY TO SOLVE THAT PROBLEM IS TO REDUCE THE NUMBERS OF ELEPHANTS. I HAVE WRITTEN A BOOK ON THIS SUBJECT: “MANAGING OUR WILDLIFE HERITAGE.” THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST>. RON THOMSON