Open letter to SANParks on tusker hunting


Friends of the Kruger Tuskers,

Date Published

The following is an open letter addressed to SANParks written by
Friends of the Kruger Tuskers, a collection of citizens from South
Africa, Kenya, Europe and North America. A petition originating in
South Africa is calling on the government to offer protection to all
tuskers. The letter has been reproduced verbatim below.

Trophy hunters in Timbavati must not be allowed to target a tusker.
Kruger is one of the last bastions of large-tusked bull elephants in
Africa. Now private game reserves with open fences to Kruger Park have
applied for permission to shoot 34 elephants, and targeting an iconic
“trophy” bull.

Both the Kruger National Park and the Association of Private Nature
Reserves have approved this permit. We the undersigned are a coalition
of concerned citizens from South Africa and from around the world.

We call upon the South African National Parks and provinces Mpumalanga
and Limpopo (LEDET) to withhold final approval of this permit.

Bryan Havemann, the Warden and General Manager of the Timbavati
Reserve, has denied the hunt would apply to a super tusker, saying it
asks for an elephant more than 50 years old, that is not iconic
(named) or collared, and with an “unlimited” tusk weight. This is in
fact the description of a tusker or an emerging tusker, presumably the
biggest one who has the misfortune to wander over.

He further said the motive for the hunt application was based on the
following: “When an elephant gets beyond 50 years of age, they don’t
have the ability to chew their food properly any more.” He argues that
if it is inevitable the elephant will die of natural causes, the money
from a hunt would be better used to fuel conservation efforts.

He is either uninformed or misrepresenting the facts. We know from
Amboseli – the world longest elephant dataset – that even at age 60
plus, a male is as successful as a male of age 35, and still coming
into musth. Very few male elephants live to the age when they can
begin to reproduce. Even in Amboseli, a population that has seen very
little poaching, 76% of males die before reaching the age of 40. Of
those who survive to reproduce, fewer still carry genes for the super

Further, the mature bulls play a critical role in the well-being of a
population, mentoring the younger bulls with their great social and
ecological experience. They chew very well, the sixth molar only comes
into wear at age 45 and lasts a very long time.

The Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR), consisting of
Timbavati, Klaserie, Balule and Umbabat, contain many privately owned
luxury lodges. Tourists pay high rates to experience wild animal
sightings and most are unaware they share the area with trophy
hunters, and that a tusker or indeed any animal they admire one day
can be shot the next for someone’s idea of “sport”.

Indeed the hunting quota application by these reserves includes 34
elephants (including a super tusker), two white rhinos, two lions, two
leopards (despite a national moratorium on hunting leopards), one
giraffe, 10 hippos, and other species for a total of 5 400
individuals. It also requests the capture of 30 White rhino and eight

Since September 2015, poaching has escalated in the Kruger. If
business as usual continues with poaching syndicates it will soon
become a “tsunami”. Across Africa, elephant numbers are crashing, and
surviving herds are seeking safe refuge. Further, populations are
under threat from habitat loss and human wildlife conflict.

It is impossible to condemn poachers who kill elephants for tusks and
allow trophy hunters to do the same. Hunting a bull elephant or any
elephant in South Africa or anywhere else for “trophy” should not be
permitted under any circumstances. It is time to secure a long-term
future for wild elephants and all endangered wildlife, and their
natural habitats.

Several prominent conservationists have responded to the proposed hunt
and public outrage is growing daily as news spreads. We ask you now to
reject the Timbavati application and to review the ethics of a hunting
economy that targets already endangered wildlife.

Sincerely, Friends of the Kruger Tuskers.