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Every year in southern Africa, South Africa and Zimbabwe in particular, elephants are gunned down because the government thinks there is 'too many elephants.' Since poaching has been more or less brought under control in South Africa and Zimbabwe, elephant populations have increased. Elephants are big eaters, and it has been claimed that elephants are destroying the habitat for other species. This led to what is known as `culling`. Entire families of elephants are shot and their throats slit, even the suckling babies, who are saved for last and see their family, everyone who they have ever loved being slaughtered. The older babies are sold to zoos and circuses, where they are abused and confined the rest of their miserable lives, or to other game parks. It has been observed in the youngsters sold to the other parks, that they often develop symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. They become more or less like juvenile delinquents, raiding crops, attacking people and even killing rhinos. An elephant never forgets. Their memory may even be better than a human`s
Elephants are highly intelligent, emotional creatures who form lifelong bonds of family love. It is every bit as strong as the bonds of a human family. It has the same effect of gunning down an entire family and kidnapping the children. There is fear, and most of all, grief. Does anything justify killing a sentient creature like the elephant? If they have all our emotions, is it not murder?
Furthermore, studies have shown culls are ineffective in the long run. Elephants simply return in greater numbers and reproduction increases. There are also alternatives to the culling such as contraceptives.
Studies have also shown that the so-called 'habitat destruction' is actually part of a natural process and creates grasslands that are actually beneficial to species such as wildebeest, buffalo and zebra. It has also been shown that the trees will usually regenerate within five years.
One could also argue that humans are the most destructive animal on the planet. We do not cull ourselves. That would be unacceptable. Why are we allowed to murder elephants, for any reason, if they are so much like us, but better in many ways?
There are accusations that the culls are actually economically motivated, as the meat from the fallen elephants are sold.
One excuse given for the culls is that the money could actually help stop the poaching of elephants. Culling, they say, is more humane. What is humane about running for your life and watching as everyone you love falls to the ground dead? The babies saved for last watch their families throats slit. There are even cases of them being tied to their mother's bodies to keep them from escaping. The babies sold endure suffering for the rest of their lives.
An elephant's love for their family is so strong, they will stay by the body of a fallen family member. They will visit the body for years, long after it is just bones. They may even take part of the bones with them when they leave. They are often known to bury a body in leaves.
Please join me in sending the message that no matter what the reason, there are some things humans simply do not have the right to do. It makes no sense to murder members of another species even to supposedly help another.
To learn more watch this video of an elephant cull, and I recommend watching to the end. And visit Born Free's website to learn more.
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