So, what is the real situation with regard to the African elephant?
The elephant occurs in 37 African countries which are host to150 different, separate and quite independent elephant populations. A population is defined as: A group of animals of the same species, the individuals of which interact with each other, in continuum, on a daily basis; and which breed only with other animals in the same group.
The circumstances (environmental pressures) applying to each population are distinctly different. This means their conservation requirements are different. Conservation applications that are good, relevant and desirable for one population, therefore, could be very detrimental to another. Ipso facto, each population has management needs that are unique to itself. No single management solution fixes them all – which is what the animal rightists want to impose on Africa.
In effect, this scientific fact makes the endangered species concept – so beloved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service – a fallacy. It has no place whatsoever in the scientific practice of wildlife management.
Within the 150 elephant populations in Africa some are UNSAFE. This means they are low in number and declining (many due to poaching). This is the situation that, generally, applies to West Africa. If they are to survive, these populations need preservation management (protection from all harm).
Some populations are SAFE; which means they enjoy good population numbers; they are breeding well; and their numbers do not exceed the carrying capacities of their habitats. These populations should be carefully culled annually to maintain their numbers at a level that is within the sustainable carrying capacities of their habitats. It is from these SAFE populations that small numbers of elephant bulls can be safely hunted. These populations should be managed according to conservation management practices. They can be sustainably used – hunted and harvested – for the benefit of the rural people of Africa.
Some populations are excessive. This means their numbers grossly exceed the carrying capacities of their habitats; which, in turn, means they are destroying their own habitats. They are also destroying the habitats of all the other animal species which share the national parks in which they all live together. If this state of affairs is allowed to continue, it will cause the local extinction of many plant and animal species; the massive loss of vital topsoil; and the elephants will turn these game reserves into deserts. Excessive populations need massive population reduction management – their numbers must be reduced drastically – to save the game reserve ecosystems from total collapse.
Very large numbers of elephant bulls can be hunted from excessive populations; and large numbers should be harvested constantly – to bring the numbers down to sustainable levels. THIS is conservation reality!
The animal rightists are telling the world that the only acceptable management strategy – for ALL elephants in Africa – is TOTAL preservation; and total preservation leads only to one thing – the development of excessive populations. So who is right and who is wrong?