Africa’s ecosystem is one of the most diverse and fragile in the world. Unfortunately, Africa’s wildlife is once again under threat from poaching.
South Africa continues to be hard hit by rhino poaching. For the first time in 10 years, poachers killed an elephant in the Kruger National Park in May. And a second elephant was killed for its ivory tusks this week.
Elephant poaching reported at Kruger National ParkAfrica's eco-system is one of the most diverse and fragile in the world. Unfortunately, the continent's wildlife is once again under threat from poaching. South Africa continues to be hard hit by rhino poaching. For the first time in 10 years, poachers killed an elephant in the Kruger National Park in May. And a second elephant was killed for its ivory tusks this week.
Situated in the northern-eastern corner of South Africa, the Kruger National Park is South Africa’s most iconic protected area. Over a million visitors flock there each year to experience the diverse flora and fauna and to catch a glimpse of the world-renowned Big Five, which includes the African elephant.
Now authorities fear the estimated 15,000 elephants in the Kruger may become the target of poachers who are already obliterating elephant herds in other parts of Africa.
“Elephant poaching is a commercial crime in most of Africa. And it’s driven again by organized crime syndicates. Often by military groups that are occupying areas. So as those resources run out, it’s an income stream for them. They’re gonna try and source it elsewhere as well.” – Dr. Markus Hofmeyr, Veterinarian Wildlife Services, Kruger National Park
Dr Hofmeyr, who is the head veterinarian at the Kruger, has worked with these large mammals for years, including studying of elephant immobilization and translocation.
The team darted a 25 to 30-year-old elephant bull as part of the Park’s routine research and sampling project. They took blood samples and body tissue as part of a study on the impact of anesthetics on elephants.
The management team here is determined to ensure that the elephant population in the Kruger continues to receive the best expert care and protection from poachers.
“The big worry I think we have is because we’re quite sophisticated with our rhino anti-poaching, the sophistication of elephant poaching, when it comes here will also be quite high. I mean it’s already present in Mozambique. Quite significantly. Particularly in the Northern part of Mozambique. And it’s been driven by the Tanzanian crime syndicates and it’s threatening to wipe out the elephants in those areas.”
Because of their size and eating habits elephants can be destructive to their surroundings. That’s making it difficult for conservationists to strike a balance between preserving the species and protecting the environment.
Elephant management plan to converse environmentBecause of their size and eating habits Elephants can be destructive to its surroundings. That's making it difficult for conservationists to strike a balance between preserving the species and protecting the environment.
The giants of the Big Five, elephants are some of the most formidable creatures in Africa and by far one of its largest. But their mammoth size and appetite is something that has to be carefully monitored. In fenced off reserves they’ve known to cause a significant depletion of natural resources as well as damage to the local eco- system.
At the Phinda game reserve in Kwazulu, Natal’s Maputaland region, researchers carefully monitor the elephant population and track their movements. It’s an important task in understanding how to deal with natural feeding habits which can can become destructive.