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Should we Cull Elephants in a National Park? Brian Child Chair Southern African Sustainable Use Specialist Group IUCN The Southern Africa Sustainable Use.

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Presentation on theme: "Should we Cull Elephants in a National Park? Brian Child Chair Southern African Sustainable Use Specialist Group IUCN The Southern Africa Sustainable Use."— Presentation transcript:

1 Should we Cull Elephants in a National Park? Brian Child Chair Southern African Sustainable Use Specialist Group IUCN The Southern Africa Sustainable Use Specialist Group

2 This Depends How we Define the Objective of a National Park  A protected area is a common property regime set aside for the benefit of society, with a conditionality being the conservation of biological diversity  We should judge the success of protected areas not by process or category but by outcome:

3 So what exactly is successful Park management? Contribution to those things valued by the societies that set them aside, i.e. Recreation / wilderness in rich, urban nations Jobs and economy in poor, rural nations Contribution to environmental conservation: Ecosystem health (systems not degraded over non- recovery thresholds, especially for trophic levels with long recovery times) Biodiversity (species not lost) Societal objective Biological objective

4 There is a Tradeoff between elephants (at high levels) and biodiversity  Too many elephants undoubtedly reduce biodiversity, and at predictable rates (see figures on next slides):  Elephant populations double in about 12 years  At 2 elephant / km 2, there will be no trees  After a point (1 elephant/km 2 or less) elephants reduce biodiversity  The safest option is to protect ecosystem levels with long recovery times, i.e. soil-water-carbon cycles; soil; vegetation; herbivores  Therefore, if we define the purpose of National Parks as biodiversity conservation, it is IRRESPONSIBLE not to remove elephants  However, if an anthropocentric society decides that it can forgo biodiversity for ethical reasons, it can make that choice (but should not impose the choice on other societies with different social norms and priorities)

5 Elephant Population Growth in Zimbabwe: 12 Year Doubling Time

6 Elephants Predictably Reduce Tree Cover and Biodiversity Null-choice (i.e. no reduction) violates interests of other species, ecosystems, habitats, landscapes,e.g.  Vegetation forms, birds, invertebrates (Zambezi Valley parks in Zimbabwe)  Large herbivores (CIRAD data from Hwange NP) Cumming, DHM, MB Fenton, IR Rautenbach, RD Taylor, GS Cumming, MS Cumming, JM Dunlop, AG Ford, MD Havorka, DS Johnston, M Kalcounis, Z Mhlangu and VR Portfors, (1997) Elephants woodlands and biodiversity in southern Africa. South African Journal of Science, 93: 231-236. Elephant density ( ) Plant richness (no. of species) ( ) 100 01234 Elephant density (No. /km 2 ) Canopy cover (%) Choice of Elephant: Biodiversity Tradeoff is a Value Judgments

7 Ecological safety: protect levels with longest recovery time and least certainty of recovery 1 10 100 1000 Years for trophic level to recover if mistakes are made T1: Soil. Soil- water-nutrient cycles. T2: Trees, perennial grass, and habitats. T3: Herbivores T5: Episodic species (quelea) T4: Carnivores Trophic Levels Recover rapidly; but high emotional content Uncertainty; Critical for sustainability Ecological “Balance” may well be a myth. More realistic is the state- and-transition model with degradation thresholds Parks are islands in a sea of humanity. Ecological / dispersal sinks have been lost – system is NOT ‘natural’

8 The moral issue hangs on killing individual; but what if we look at the species instead?  64% of World’s elephants in southern Africa, especially the “utilization countries”  Fully 45% of elephants are in Zimbabwe and Botswana  Massive habitat damage occurring; recovery questionable (climate change)  Ecological responsibility would require us to remove at least 30,000 elephants each year!  Excess elephants:  Expanding out of increasingly degraded National Parks  Into areas set aside for agriculture and occupied by extremely poor people  Seriously damaging livelihoods  The ONLY solution yet found to manage the trade-off between elephants and poverty is economic utilization  Elephants can be used commercially as bridgeheads of a wildlife economy into marginal areas otherwise damaged by unsustainable agriculture. Under use regimes in southern Africa:  Amount of wildlife has quadrupled  Protected land has quadrupled through private and community conservation areas  Tourism economy has quadrupled

9 Elephant Utilization  Loud argument that markets create use which destroys elephants  Mis-understands:  That the primary threat factor is competition from other land uses.  That Incentives are essential to expand elephants range  Use is a rigorous concept that works where:  Proprietorship - The landholder captures the benefits  Price - The value of elephants (and associated species) is higher than alternative land uses  Subsidiarity – Local control and rights are paramount

10 Elephant Utilization  There is strong evidence that landholder incentives work to create more land for wildlife (e.g. see CAMPFIRE slide)  Interestingly, elephants have (see slide comparing population change to use regime):  Increased by 225% in the countries that unashamedly use them  Declined by 75% in the countries that ban use

11 Tangible Benefits: Cash Dividends from the Wildlife Enterprise is KEY Total Income Private Income Revenue Distribution

12 EXAMPLE: Zimbabwe’s CAMPFIRE Programme depends heavily on safari hunting (over 60% of revenues from elephants) In the face of a doubling of human populations Elephant populations have doubled from 4,000 to 8-12,000 Elephants benefit 90,000 households, but trophy quality is maintained And income from hunting has increased dramatically

13 Paradox: Direct Negative Correlation between Non-Use and Population Growth Non Use Use 24% of 1960 215% of 1960

14 Conclusions  Our responsibility to ecosystems and species should trump our responsibility to individual animals  Reducing elephants in many parks in southern Africa is the responsible (if difficult) choice  However, we can have more elephants if we convert them into the land use of choice.  Many African savannas far more suitable for wildlife production than crops or livestock  Wildlife, a major African resource for Millennia, can be used as a sustainable resource for fighting poverty  Political sustainability - Why should politicians be convinced that conserving the natural world is in the best interests of their electorate?

15 Conclusions  The Ethical Issue (whose ethics?)  Moral responsibility to treat animals humanely  Should not look at elephants in isolation - Is it moral to use contraception when it is expensive, there is no money for AIDS treatment, and using elephants creates value for rural communities?  Is it legitimate for one person/culture impose to impose their moral norms on another through legislation or international agreement?  Is it moral to impose the costs of having elephant on the poorest people in the World without paying?  Is it ethical to place the rights on individual elephants over those of other species and especially ecosystems?

16 Conclusions  Ultimately, the sustainability of elephants or protected area is the issue  This returns us to the OBJECTIVES of parks.  We reject the National Park model of the last 100 years as anthropocentric – more concerned with people ‘feeling’ good about nature, than about actually conserving it  We believe Parks should:  Maximize benefits to society  Without pushing system over degradation thresholds  What is fascinating about this, is that it reflects the principles underlying protected areas that are thousands, not one hundred, years old, e.g. sacred groves in Asia, hemas in Arabia

17 Huge numbers of elephants causing serious range destruction in Zimbabwe and Botswana A regional perspective – introducing effective use policies can access ‘empty’ land as a sink for excess elephant populations Potential to use elephants: As a conservation-development tool in lightly populated areas in Zambia, Angola, Mozambique To release pressure on Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe

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