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S. Africa may resume killing elephants to reduce numbers

Story Highlights

Government pushing for targeted slaughter; population will double by 2020

Officials: Environment endangered by the voracious eaters, prolific breeders

Conservationists call culling, which means killing entire family groups, cruel

Opponents advocate sterilization, forced migration

ADDO NATIONAL PARK, South Africa (Reuters) -- South Africa on Wednesday unveiled a new policy to manage its swelling elephant population, including resuming a cull of the animals if needed.

Government experts have been pushing for a targeted slaughter of some of the country's 20,000 elephants as well as a birth control program to preserve land endangered by the voracious eaters.

"We are adding culling and contraception to the range of management options because, based on the information that we have, it is necessary," Environment and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk told journalists at Addo Elephant Park near the coastal city of Port Elizabeth.

"But it is a difficult decision," said van Schalkwyk, adding the government was willing to consult with environmental groups in the next two months before its proposals became law.

The World Wildlife Fund, a leading conservation group, applauded the government's consultative approach but said culling should not be the main tool for controlling elephant populations.

"WWF encourages all governments to use culling only as a last resort when all non-lethal options have been investigated and there is conclusive evidence that non-lethal approach would not be as effective in managing elephant populations," it said.

Government scientists say the elephant population, which was once near extinction in South Africa, is growing at a rate of more than 5 percent a year and is expected to double by 2020.

At Kruger National Park, the jewel in the nation's game park system, the number of elephants has risen to around 14,000 since culling was stopped in 1995 after an outcry from animal rights activists and the public.
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Oh, jenna, you're way ahead of me! I was just about to post this!

Can't they move some elephants to other parts of Africa? Aren't there other solutions to the problem than just killing them?
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