A Sad Future for Elephants?

Poaching and overpopulation. An impossible dilemma

Just few months after the scandal about Cecil, the lion killed in Zimbabwe by an American dentist under controversial circumstances – who shook the world last summer – it is today’s again breaking news the shocking picture of a German hunter who spent 60,000 Euros to kill one of the biggest elephant in the country. The images of the tourist / hunter posing in front of the dying aninal is disturbing the world once again. In addition to that, the discovery of 26 elephant bodies presumibly poisoned by cyanide, inside the Hwange National Park, is bringing the dramatic problem of poaching back to general attention.

This is happening despite the efforts of people like Mark Butcher, a former ranger of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority, one of the many persons today involved in the front line of wildlife conservation. Mark is one of the promoters of the water pumping program, which aims to bring water to the drinking pools during the dry season. The wells have been built to prevent the migration of the elephants in search of water in other areas of the country that, nowadays – due to the increasing of population around the parks, – is no longer possible. Mark is also involving the local communities in the benefits brought by tourism thanks to the existence of the national parks: ‘So the people may look at elephants and other wild animals as a resource and not as an enemy that destroys their fields and kill their cows’.

So far these projects have been very successful and the present number of elephants in Hwange has reached the impressive figure of 44,000 units. Unfortunately today they are simply too many for the vegetation of the park, resulting largely devastated, with the consequent risk for the elephants themselves to be short of food, even once the water shortage would will be sorted out again. The poaching in Zimbabwe is becoming a very serious issue. ‘The East Africa has lost 50% of its elephants in the last few years and at this rate, we would be facing the same carnage’ – points out Mark, seriously worried about the future of the Zimbabwe elephants.