Sunday, 4 November 2012

Will elephant contraception work in South Africa?


Birth control for elephants in South Africa is being hailed as a success, after the introduction of a contraception vaccine being trialled by researchers.
Wildlife conservationists believe it is likely to become the way to control South Africa's ever-expanding elephant population.
But the plans have provoked considerable controversy.
Some of the country's most eminent elephant experts are completely opposed to the contraception programme.
Elephants eat an estimated 270kg (600lbs) of food a day and can be extremely destructive while feeding, pushing over trees or breaking off branches.
Unlike in many African countries, where poaching has recently been having a devastating effect on elephant numbers, in South Africa the population is estimated at about 20,000.
For the last five years, wildlife experts in the Tembe Elephant Park, which borders Mozambique, have been firing the contraceptives into the female elephants from the air.
The 300 sq km (115 sq mile) park in KwaZulu Natal province has 200 elephants in its herd - some of southern Africa's largest giant animals with magnificent tusks.

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