In commemoration of World Elephant Day on Wednesday, 12 August, South African National Parks (SANParks) says South Africa cannot remain complacent when it comes to elephant poaching.
Although South Africa has only experienced a few isolated incidents of elephant poaching, unlike many other African countries, SANParks large mammal ecologist, Dr. Sam Ferreira says SANParks is applying an integrated approach in solving wildlife crime in general. “We cannot allow the status quo particularly in relation to the current onslaught on our rhino to continue,” he says.
Ferreira says elephants play a huge role within any landscape where they occur. They are habitat engineers. As a charismatic species they awaken emotions among people like few others. As a keystone species, they contribute significantly to the integrity of ecosystems. From an economic perspective, they are also value generators. SANParks, however, does recognise that elephants can also influence the well-being of people in a negative way.
Ferreira says that SANParks’ integrated approach thus also focuses on managing the effects that elephants have on people, the environment and the economic opportunities they create. Managing the effects of elephants on such a range of values is best done through restoring landscapes such as closing boreholes that provided additional water, and allowing natural processes to play out. SANParks illustrates these challenges and ways to deal with them at the Elephant Hall Museum in the Letaba camp of the Kruger National Park.
The Elephant Hall covers elephant evolution, biology, behaviour, ecology and research. It also showcases the ivory of eight of Kruger’s greatest tuskers, including six of the Magnificent Seven, who are currently on display at the museum. Apart from Kruger National Park, elephants can also be seen at the Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape, as well as in the Marakele and Mapungubwe National Parks in Limpopo.
On 12 August 2012, the inaugural World Elephant Day was launched to bring attention to the urgent plight of Asian and African elephants.