Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

The South African government has relegalized the culling of elephant herds. Predictably, animal rights activists are calling for a boycott. From the story:

Beginning in May, the government will lift a 13-year ban on elephant culls, which are usually carried out by shooting entire herds, including youngsters, from helicopters.Animal Rights Africa said culling was “cruel and morally reprehensible,” adding that elephants have emotions similar to those of humans.

The move could hurt the country’s tourism industry, with animal welfare lobbies calling for a tourist boycott to protest culling...The guidelines call for “humane” killing, specifying that a rifle of at least .375 caliber be used. Sharpshooters usually kill entire herds because of the complex social structure of elephants and because young animals need to be taught social behavior by adults in order to survive...

Although elephants are endangered in other parts of Africa, the population in South Africa is robust. But the issue of culling is emotional for many, because of elephants’ keen intelligence and elaborate social behaviors. Elephants are known to grieve for their dead. There are 18,000 elephants in South Africa, including more than 12,500 in Kruger National Park, one of the country’s most famous tourist attractions. SANParks, the government agency in charge of parks and national game reserves, called for culling in a 2005 report to the government, arguing that too many elephants threaten other species.

Van Schalkwyk said there also was concern about the impact of elephants on the landscape and the livelihoods and safety of people living near the herds. Before culling, reserve managers will have to prove that they have excess elephants and that killing is the only effective option.

Animal Rights Africa said culling was “cruel and morally reprehensible,” adding that elephants have emotions similar to those of humans. “The latest research has proved that elephants have a sense of self-awareness, placing them in a unique category with great apes, dolphins and humans,” the organization said. “How much like us do elephants have to be before killing them becomes murder?”
The reaction of groups like Animal Rights Africa demonstrates the profound irrationality that is a hallmark of animal rights ideology. Killing elephants isn’t murder. Moreover, the animal rights activists are the cruel ones: Not culling would eventually lead to mass starvation of the elephants and other animals.

I have visited these parks—the experience of a lifetime. I have seen wild elephants very close up and they are magnificent. But I have also seen firsthand how elephants destroy the environment. In closed systems like the S. African parks, their population must be kept in check or the parks will be destroyed. The only way to not cull would be to remove all humans from the adjacent area and make the entire east side of S. Africa an animal reserve. But most of the people I saw in the area are subsistence farmers. But, of course, they matter little to the animal rights advocates.

Boycott S. Africa? That was a totally righteous action to eradicate the evil of Apartheid, but over proper animal husbandry practices that are not pleasant but are definitely necessary? No!

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles