It would have been a wonderful thing indeed if human society had developed in a way which embraced the needs of the natural world of which it is a part. It is lamentable that the arrival of the industrial age brought with it an insatiable need to “conquer” nature as if it were some malevolent beast instead of our creator and provider. That, however is the way it has been and we are now living in an environmetal mess of our own creation which we must address quickly Some might say it already too late to reverse a process which has gained momentum over the past 100 years and which may now threaten all life forms on this planet. including elephants , even though populations of this magnificent creatures are currently increasing in some areas. It is certainly too late to wish for a planet upon which wildlife has been allowed to exist undisturbed by human activity.
The Kruger National Park is not a natural environment. It is a contrived, man -designated area where animals are protected from slaughter and allowed to live a natural life. It was created to preserve and support dwindling wildlife populations and has served its purpose well.Too well, for now the elphant population is out of control and that increase in numbers brings its own problems. So what is the best way to deal with this imbalance?
Left to its own devices nature would eventually find its own solution. Starvation or disease would kick in to control numbers and the mighty beasts would succumb. The fittest would survive and numbers would again grow, There are often natural fluctuations in population numbers amongst species. This is not a natural situation, however and the Kruger Park relies heavily on tourism for its finance. Not many tourists would enjoy visiting a safari resort and see the downside of the wonders of nature; an ailing, disease ridden or starving elephant population.
It is obvious that some man made population control must be applied if the ecosystem of the Park is not to be seriously damaged. As the relocation of large numbers of elephants is not an option, the destruction of selected animals is neccessary. The usual method of control in these circumstances is humane culling, although the introduction of a killer disease has been employed ie myxamatosis. This did work in terms of eradicating rabbits but was distressing to witness and a wretched way for the animals to die.
If I were a native being, living self sufficiently in the widerness, I would no doubt see this glut of elephants as a rare treat and a time of plenty. My food worries would be over and I could benefit from selling ivory to foreign traders. I do not see why, in the Kruger, elephants cannot be selectively and humanely destroyed. the meat and ivory sold and the proceeds used for the maintenance of the Park and all it does to safeguard the long term future of African wildlife. The economy of all societies which lived in harmony with the natural world involved using all parts of the animal and that was a sound philosophy.
This is not an issue which can be governed by sentiment. It IS distressing to think of glorious animals being brought down by the gun, cut up and sold for their meat and tusks. This is the price we must pay for having played “God” in the past and trying to control nature. Nature is beautiful and awe inspiring but nature is not afraid to act ruthlessly when issues of long term survival are at stake. In respect of the elephants we must, if more chaos is to be avoided, emulate nature and act to reduce the population of elephants in a way which is humane and respectful which will bring benefit to the indigenous human inhabitants and the future of the Kruger National Park.