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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Quote Originally Posted by Del View Post
    Many elephants, although a “drop in the ocean” in terms of the overall KNP population, were translocated over several years after the moratorium on culling was imposed in 1994 such that all areas to which they could be moved to are now saturated.

    Moving them further afield is simply not an option. Because of their social structures one needs to move elephants in family groups which are normally about 12 animals at a time. Three elephants can be handled in one day – that is to dart it from a helicopter and then herd it with the helicopter so that when it collapses it is accessible, take measurements and record data, load it onto a trailer, transport it to and transfer it into a recovery truck, administer the anti-dote, wait for the elephant to recover and then for it to back off backwards into a transport trailer wherein it is secured before the next elephant can be tackled. With the current KNP elephant population likely to be around 33 000 elephants, at the conservative growth rate of 6 ½% pa, 5 elephants are added to the numbers each and every day so one is still on a positive growth of 2 elephants per day.

    Clearly a much bigger and progressive issue at that if the numbers are indeed at the 39 000 level by the end of this year as alluded to earlier moving to 41 500 in numbers next year. And then, Richprins, what if your gut-feel of 50 000 is in fact the true number?

    One of the options contained in the Elephant Management Plan that emerged after the "New Norms and Standards" were published in 2008, was range manipulation which entailed amongst other options the closure of waterholes. This would result in curtailing the growth rate of elephant numbers. It is the "natural way" of limiting numbers as this initiative was referred to, this being that young calves and old cows who now have to walk much further to get to water, would succumb to thirst and die a slow death. Maybe, Mike, such a "natural way" is indeed a more humane way of managing the numbers in the eyes of the authorities - but, as mentioned before, it did not work to reduce the growth rate - see an earlier post above.

    As for the census numbers coming out of the KNP, the last seemingly reliable census number taken by helicopter that descended down to tree-top level to disperse herds so that they can be counted properly took place in 2007. The elephants bunch up on the approach of a helicopter concealing their young so they need to be dispersed.

    2007 was also the year when it was announced by a professor that large herbivores such as elephant (and probably also rhino) cannot be counted in an area the size of the KNP, this notwithstanding the fact that for the prior 37 years annual total aerial census counts of elephants were undertaken by helicopter each year. While one cannot talk of accuracy one can talk of the reliability of the outcome of a census. I read that the confidence level of those annual surveys way back then were very high - in the region of 95% and better! As far as I can so far make out three further total aerial surveys were undertaken - in 2012, 2015 and again in 2017 but the numbers emanating from these are all over the place and simply do not add up. Other than these the population numbers seem to be estimated using statistical block-counting and extrapolation methods - certainly not ideal.

    With the steady growth in elephant numbers it would take longer and longer each year to conduct the total aerial survey and with it more and more costs would have been incurred in this exercise. This reality may give rise to the desire to do the job quickly but in the process compromise the reliability of the outcome.

    I continue with the reading!
    Finding the place to move them to is definately an issue, both within RSA borders and north of the Limpopo.

    The real challenge is not how many can be moved at a time (you can definately capture and load a lot more than 3 a day, I know first hand of groups of up to 30 being captured and loaded in a day). The challenge is how far you can practically move them. Even if you have dealt with the security risk at recipient reserves, 1500km (or approx 30 hours) is the furthest you can transport them.

    relaistically, there is not much place suitable habitat left in SA to move these Kruger animals to. Everyone that can handle elephant, in SA is mostly sitting with a population problem already.

    and 1500km north, puts you into systems like a Chobe, that already have their own population crisis.

    a multi pronged approach is needed. Large scale translocation is possible, but its extremely costly. But with poaching decimating populations across Africa, we do need to keep that option open, as we will be responsible for repopulating elephant populations across the continent. But at the same time, we need to be open to consumptive use policies to also manage the numbers locally. So called “green” organisations and their power to dictate management policy with their chequebooks will creat a scenario were they protect elephant to their own detriment..... but it’s not only the elephant that die, they first takes a huge chunk of biodiversity with them.

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  3. #22
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigal-SA View Post
    Care to share some links to hard research?
    You can phone the Kruger Prk Research People and do some reading >> I havent the time to doi that for you

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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Betts View Post
    You can phone the Kruger Prk Research People and do some reading >> I havent the time to doi that for you
    That's not how this works.
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Quote Originally Posted by Scheepers85 View Post
    Finding the place to move them to is definately an issue, both within RSA borders and north of the Limpopo.

    The real challenge is not how many can be moved at a time (you can definately capture and load a lot more than 3 a day, I know first hand of groups of up to 30 being captured and loaded in a day). The challenge is how far you can practically move them. Even if you have dealt with the security risk at recipient reserves, 1500km (or approx 30 hours) is the furthest you can transport them.

    relaistically, there is not much place suitable habitat left in SA to move these Kruger animals to. Everyone that can handle elephant, in SA is mostly sitting with a population problem already.

    and 1500km north, puts you into systems like a Chobe, that already have their own population crisis.

    a multi pronged approach is needed. Large scale translocation is possible, but its extremely costly. But with poaching decimating populations across Africa, we do need to keep that option open, as we will be responsible for repopulating elephant populations across the continent. But at the same time, we need to be open to consumptive use policies to also manage the numbers locally. So called “green” organisations and their power to dictate management policy with their chequebooks will creat a scenario were they protect elephant to their own detriment..... but it’s not only the elephant that die, they first takes a huge chunk of biodiversity with them.
    Agreed. I have had the good fortune of being involved in a relocation operation, a whole day of darting/loading and 40-45 hours later we offloaded 1500kms away.
    The problem comes in that that family unit needs to be left alone for a few years before you can move them again. So you cannot leapfrog them, if you could it would then be conceivable to move them much further than 1500km. As it stands, that is pretty much the limit.

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  7. #25
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Well as a complete layperson regarding matters elephant, I enjoyed reading the post tremendously, and am very pleased no buckaroo suggested that the Jeep Wrangler club come and load them and transport them to Addo! Keep up the good work chaps.

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  9. #26
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    As said culling Ellies are also not an easy job, and not a cheap operation either. But yes somehow numbers need to be managed.
    Johan Kriel

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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Just to focus on the translocation of elephants out of the KNP for a minute.

    I now believe that it is a red herring of note even though it was recorded as being a management option in the Elephant Management Plan that emerged after the "New Norms and Standards" published in 2008. Seemed like a very good option.

    I am told by a source that, over the 14 years while he was intimately involved in this process, between 1994 through to 2008 , a total of 808 elephants were moved! In 14 years! That is a straight average of no more than 58 per year but some years more than others is probably the case!

    Put this into context of the possible 33 000 in the park at present. What impact on the population numbers could this paltry 808 relocated elephants have had over those 14 years? None to speak of would be my response.

    What resources did the KNP have to execute these translocations I asked. Two units to move families, another unit to move bulls, one tractor and one licensed driver to transport the elephants to their destination. And the cost? Enormous at the time.
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  12. #28
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Quote Originally Posted by Del View Post
    Just to focus on the translocation of elephants out of the KNP for a minute.

    I now believe that it is a red herring of note even though it was recorded as being a management option in the Elephant Management Plan that emerged after the "New Norms and Standards" published in 2008. Seemed like a very good option.

    I am told by a source that, over the 14 years while he was intimately involved in this process, between 1994 through to 2008 , a total of 808 elephants were moved! In 14 years! That is a straight average of no more than 58 per year but some years more than others is probably the case!

    Put this into context of the possible 33 000 in the park at present. What impact on the population numbers could this paltry 808 relocated elephants have had over those 14 years? None to speak of would be my response.

    What resources did the KNP have to execute these translocations I asked. Two units to move families, another unit to move bulls, one tractor and one licensed driver to transport the elephants to their destination. And the cost? Enormous at the time.
    Just to comment on relocation. It's easy to suggest it, but where are they gonna go? In sa you can't give an elephant away for free. Nobody wants them because they are such a difficult species to manage. Almost all properties in kzn with elephant are over their carrying capacity. Some want to get rid of theirs completely..

    Only options remain elsewhere in Africa where populations have been decimated. BUT, you can't just send ellies somewhere where they'll just be slaughtered. You need a massive reserve, that is proclaimed and protected, that is fully funded and that has the ranger numbers to protect them. Then, even if you find a place like this you still receive criticism from some..
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  14. #29
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Also some evidence that even in the transfrontier areas elephants are not moving e.g. from Botswana into Angola. Too much poaching still in Angola. It is not an easy matter to resolve. The research on having a constant number of elephants in Kruger e.g. 7000 is out dated and today is more geared at having fluctuations. Who knows how far it can go up though.

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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    I wear a few hats in this conversation. Conservationist, realist, hunter, having been involved in anti-poaching, but most of all a deep and abiding love for Africa.

    My view is that translocation is not a viable option. Costwise & logistics makes it a non-starter. And translocate where? All areas and privately owned reserves (that can safely harbour elephants) are basically up to their eyes in elephants already. (a good friend that owns 40 000 hectares in KZN, of suitable habitat, took in a herd of 12 elephants some years ago. After a few years he gave the herd away and paid all costs to have them moved. His bill for renting a Robinson R44 to chase the herd back to his farm everytime they broke out just became too much. Also damage to piping etc at water holes).

    My humble opinion - there are only 2 possible solutions.

    Either create more space by opening new areas for the ellies, or cull. When the 1st fence was erected in Africa, man (probably unbeknowst to him at the time), took on the responsibility of managing game numbers as well.

    Culling however requires a very clear view of what the sustainable population number for a spesific area would be. Including the allowance for seasonal fluctuations in rainfall. And that becomes a major debate and grey area by itself.

    No easy answer to this one. But one thing is for sure, the clock is ticking on this issue.
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  17. #31
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    When my boet was employed in the KNP, he often used to take part in the census flights and was well acquainted with the nature conservation boys who were personal friends. He used to tell me that the magic number according to the "old school rangers" was 7 000 Elephants. It must be noted that this number was a directive and had nothing to do with the Elephant carrying capacity of the KNP. Later we then fell under the spell of CITES and others. The single biggest problem is that we listen to these Wildlife organisation's, none of which manage Elephant populations and we kowtow to them. That is why they stopped culling in 1994. By around 2004 the population had swelled to around 11 500.

    Culling was a direct response to habitat destruction. Observations done in Satara in the very early days correlated a direct reduction in canopy trees when Elephants moved into the area. The porblem is nobody seems to have calculated the Elephant carrying capacity of the KNP, one source cites 5 000 as the max. Studies show that Elephants have a home range, when this home range no longer satisfies their needs (destroyed no more food), they move to a new range which will suffer the same fate. The recovery rate of the areas is great in terms of years.

    For those who have visited the KNP over the past 35 years you would have noticed the effects of the increase in the Elephant population, the ecology of some area's has been changed, these areas becoming rather desolate. I have never seen so many upended trees as there are now. Animals with a confined border in which to roam must be managed.

    The culls are not actually that difficult, the rangers had it down to a fine art, it is the support structure. The large trucks and cranes / front-end loaders to lift the carcasses. A herd is selected and located, the chopper pilots herd them as close as possible to a convenient access route, then they circle them into a group and they are able to take out a complete herd within a 100m radius for the most part. Herd's were selected to contain the distress of the animals. If there was a demand for young Elephants by private ranch owners and or Zoo's, these were kept alive and the farmers could collect. Not sure if they were sold or given, would think they were sold.

    The carcasses were taken to Skukuza and butchered, the meat was processed in a fully kitted factory on site. Who can remember the canned meat, Elephant and Buffalo and the Elephant and Buffalo biltong as well. The process was as sustainable as it could have been. The processed meat was used a rations, sold in the shops and revenues went to R&D. Post 1994 R&D has been under severe funding pressure.

    Who will tale up the fight and prove to the likes of CITES that their policy decisions should be left to the countries that control the populations of Elephants. Who is going to blame who when species start dying odd as a result.

    The ecology is like a poorly run country, the decline is gradual and insidious until that is critical mass is reached, thereafter they both go into free fall.
    Last edited by Andrew Leigh; 2021/04/27 at 10:11 AM.

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  19. #32
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    It seems that several botanists such as Trollip (1988) Asner (2009 and 2015) and Vanak (2012) have commented on the detrimental changes to the biodiversity as a result of elephant activity.

    A botanist by name of Viljoen, presumably using the aerial photographs that had been given to the KNP covering the 45-year period from 1940 through to 1985, established that there were 13 large-canopy trees per hectare in 1944 scattered in a large area to the south-east of Satara in the KNP. In 1955, eleven years later, this number remained unchanged but then elephant moved into the area. By 1981, in the intervening 26 years, some 93% of these large-canopy trees had disappeared. If one looks on Google Earth at the area around the Satara camp one can see the difference in large trees within the camp itself compared to the surrounding area.

    To add to this, Gregory Asner, an American ecologist who, amongst other things, focusses on ecosystems, reported in 2015 that, from landscape studies undertaken, the treefall rate within the KNP is significantly greater than in areas where there are no elephant. There are a number of areas within the KNP that have been fenced off preventing herbivores (elephant) from accessing these. Looking at aerial images one can clearly see where elephant have been busy with their ecological engineering and where not. One of these aerial images depicts a cordoned off area along the Sabie River next to a “free” area where one can clearly see the lack of riverine trees along the river where elephant have access to compared to the cordoned off area.

    Describing elephants as ecological engineers seems to be in vogue amongst some people. They certainly do change the landscapes and in so doing change the biodiversity for which the KNP is so renowned. Maybe we will be using the past tense – was so renowned - for this statement in the not-too distant future! That is a serious concern!

    Can anybody confirm a comment that I have come across that many trees have been felled by elephants in the Madikwe Game Reserve? The number of leopards is, as a consequence, on the decline because of a lack of large trees into which they are able to hoist their prey so lose their bounty to hyenas.
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  21. #33
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Its not an easy decision, do you allow the system to flux or remain more constant? Big trees will grow back but not in a short period of aerial photo monitoring or the even shorter time Asner has been doing his LIDAR research. There is still space for elephants and lots of other big and hairies but their management is very complex, particularly in an era of the emotional internet.

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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Just something else. The so-called 'Desert Elephants' were been putting on the endangered list lately. They can only live only in a few rivers there, and if you ask me their numbers are far too much for the area there. 50 years ago their numbers were much less of what there are now. There are also lately more and more complaints from the locals of damaged done by elephants.
    Johan Kriel

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  24. #35
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Dr Ian Whyte, ex head of Scientific Services in the KNP until his retirement in 2007, devotes the last chapter of his book to the "Elephant Dilemma" in which he unpacks the situation quite well. His autobiography is a delightful read.

    An astonishing revelation is that during a 10 year period from 1979 and 1989 Africa lost half of its population of elephants to poaching. A massive 691 000 elephants were lost. So no wonder the resultant huge outcry from the international community! The elephants in Africa MUST be protected and saved at all cost!

    BUT most interestingly out this total only 193 elephants were poached out of the KNP over those 10 years! So SA and the KNP are being tarred with the same brush ignoring this quite significant and radical differentiating fact.

    The last chapter of Dr Whyte's book is attached. It is an interesting, thought provoking read! Highly recommended
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  26. #36
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Source: Ron Thomson

    Elephant Culling in Kruger National Park - Part One
    The story behind the controversy

    Early last year the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT), Martinus van Schalkwyk, announced that he had approved culling as ONE of the options for the management of elephants in Kruger National Park (KNP). This was the culmination of several years of open public debate during which all shades of opinion had been aired.

    The announcement caused an uproar in animal rights organisation (ARO) circles and there has been an intensification of ARO propaganda demanding that this decision be reversed. So the nature-loving members of South Africa’s general public were, once again, thrown into confusion and uncertainty.

    Controversy, confusion and uncertainty - the energy on which the animal rights confidence industry thrives - will continue to fester in the hearts and minds of societies the-world-over until the need for elephant management is properly understood and accepted by a rational public-at-large. This may seem an impossible task but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the fundamental ecological factors involved. Neither do you need to be a genius to understand the factors that influenced van Schalkwyk’s decision. All you need is simple common sense. It would help if you also had some understanding about the historical background that led to the present state of affairs.

    There were NO elephants in KNP in 1900. There are, however, records of elephants having been shot in the region throughout the 19th Century and before, but not many. This begs the question: Why were there not lots and lots of elephants in the region at the beginning of the 20th Century?

    The probable reason for the lack of elephants in KNP the 19th Century and before is the fact that there are much richer soils, more palatable vegetation, and so much better nutrition, in areas that are not too distant from the park boundaries. Indeed, it was precisely because KNP was NOT endowed with much agricultural potential that it was set aside for wildlife.

    In years gone by, therefore, elephants were more greatly attracted to the richer habitats that existed in those areas some distance from the park. The park was probably then used by only a few elephants for seasonal visitations when certain trees were bearing fruit. And the preponderance of these visitors were probably bulls.

    Hunters have been blamed for the elephants’ demise in KNP prior to 1900. The fact is, however, there is no record of large numbers of elephants ever having been killed in the region.

    There is also the fact that the ivory hunters of Africa’s early history did not kill many cows and calves. So, if the hunters shot only the elephant bulls whatever happened to the breeding herds?

    The fact is, nobody really knows very much about the historical facts concerning the disposition of elephants in what became KNP prior to the 20th Century.

    What we DO know is that ten elephants, one group of four and one group of six, took up occupation of the KNP’s Olifants-Letaba river junction area in 1905. They were said to be refugees from heavy ivory-hunting pressures that were being exerted on the remnants of a once large elephant population that lived in adjacent southern Mozambique at that time.

    Although there is no record of any other elephants coming into KNP after 1905 it is probable that others also migrated into the park in later years. The total elephant population base in the early 1900s must then have been in the region of +/-100 for the herds to have achieved the numbers that were extant in the 1950s.

    The elephants of the Olifants-Letaba river junction area increased in number, and they dispersed into the rest of KNP, over the next 53 years. It was not until 1958 that elephants were reported to have occupied “every corner of KNP”.

    The dispersal pattern was not uniform. The herds moved in spearheads, in different directions, leaving gaps of country in between that remained, for long periods, unoccupied by elephants. These gaps eventually filled up as a consequence of the lateral dispersal of the ever-increasing population. The average rate of population dispersal was 6.2 kilometres per year.

    By the early 1960s the scientists of KNP were becoming restless. They were by then recording unsustainable habitat damage caused by too many elephants from regions all over KNP. This was discussed at an ordinary meeting of the National Parks Board (now SANParks) in 1965 when the then Director, Dr. Rocco Knobel, made a decision that elephant culling would take place with the purpose of maintaining the elephant population at its then current number.

    “This policy,” he said, “would be maintained until the (then) developing artificial game water supply programme had been completed. When THAT stage was reached,” he said, “the numbers of elephants the park should carry would be properly determined.”

    The population number agreed upon in 1967 was 7000 elephants. It is important to understand that this was an arbitrary figure NOT determined, in any way, by what the scientists of the day considered to be the sustainable elephant carrying capacity of the KNP habitats.

    At this juncture it is equally necessary to record the findings of a vitally important research programme. In 1944, when there were NO elephants in the area, a study was conducted to determine the number of mature top-canopy trees in the Satara region of the park. The results showed there were then, on average, 13 top canopy trees per hectare (2.4 acres).

    Mature top canopy trees are important for a number of reasons. First of all, when they form a continuous canopy, they create a habitat that is suitable for a large number of strictly arboreal creatures such as night apes, various reptiles and a whole host of invertebrates. They also provide special foods for a wide variety of animals and birds.

    Another and most important factor about top canopy trees is that, because their canopies provide shade, they create a special environment on the ground beneath them for a huge variety of plants that cannot tolerate direct sunlight. And these under-story plants, in turn, provide the vital microclimates for yet other plants that require even less light. So, altogether top canopy trees create unique and vital habitats that sustain a whole range of plant species that are especially adapted to various degrees of shade. And there is a concomitant host of animal species that is especially adapted to these shade-loving habitats, too, and to no other.

    Elephant culling commenced in KNP in1967. The target was to first reduce the elephant population to 7000; and then to maintain it at 7000. This was accomplished by removing the calculated annual increment every year. After 1967 some 350 to 500 elephants were culled every year.

    This programme was maintained until 1994 when, due to heavy animal rights pressure on the then Director of SANParks, Dr. Robbie Robinson, elephant culling was discontinued. The last elephant cull was carried out in 1994.

    It is important to record that, by 1994, the development programme to create a blanket of artificial game water supplies in KNP had long been completed. There had been, however, no assessment made of the elephant carrying capacity of the habitats. Also, no revision of the elephant-culling programme had been carried out. By default, therefore, everybody including the general public of South Africa, were conditioned into believing that the elephant carrying capacity of KNP was and remains 7000.

    The facts do not support this figure. The Satara top-canopy tree study tells us why. As mentioned above, in 1944 there were 13 top canopy trees in the Satara study area. This had not changed by 1958 when the first pilot elephant bulls visited the area. The first elephant cow herds became established there in 1960.

    The Satara top canopy tree population had been reduced to 9 trees per hectare by 1965. Culling commenced in 1967 whereafter the elephant population was maintained for the next 25 years at 7000 animals.

    Despite the continued elephant culling programme, the Satara top canopy trees had been reduced to 3 trees per hectare by 1974; and to 1,5 trees by 1981. This represents a decline, in just 20 years, of 80 percent. No further assessments were made until 2008. It was then reported that the woodland trees at Satara had been reduced by 95 percent (to 0,78 trees per hectare).

    Faced with these kinds of facts no responsible and reasonable person can say that KNP’s elephant population, now standing at approximately 16 000, is in any way sustainable. Nobody can say that 7000 elephant is/was the true carrying capacity of the ORIGINAL habitats, which were reasonably stable and healthy until about 1960. Nobody who understands the ecological implications can deny that, if current trends continue, KNP faces the extinction of huge numbers of plant and animal species, and eventual total ecological collapse. In fact, Kruger National Park is on the road to becoming a desert!

    Ipso facto, the KNP elephant population needs to be quickly reduced to a number that is considerably less than 7000. If this does not happen the KNP habitats will have absolutely no chance of recovery from the last 50 years of very serious elephant population mismanagement.
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  28. #37
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    To the OP and regarding the Martial Eagles, I have fairly regularly spotted ones in Imfolozi Park here in KZN also juveniles, so they must still be breeding here as well; but yes I share your concern regarding the elephant numbers.
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Weakley View Post
    Perhaps we don't need less elephants, but far more game reserve land . Would seemingly suite me!


    With a land-hungry (South)Africa What will the chance be for that to happen?


    Chris.

  30. #39
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Simple solution:

    Calculate scientifically where, when an how many need to be culled.

    Allow properly responsible, controlled and ethical hunting.

    Price it at a level where SANPARK and nature conservation can benefit, yet,
    reasonably enough for ordinary South Africans who are not billionaires or
    multimillionaires can afford to hunt them.

    Use some of the proceeds to protect various species from criminal
    illegal poaching.



    Quote Originally Posted by Del View Post
    I recently visited the KNP entering at Malelane and exiting at Phalaborwa.

    One cannot help but notice the number of elephant as one drives along. And of course the number of trees that have been ring-barked and are dying or have been pushed over, many of them recently but also many trees have been felled a long time ago.

    So it is no wonder that the martial eagle, white-backed vulture, secretary bird, ground hornbill and even the bateleur are now all on the IUCN's red list of critically endangered species. Besides having to survive other onslaughts such as muti in the case of the white-backed vulture and no doubt other threats such as poisoning, all of these raptors no longer have the abundance of habitat, the tall large canopy trees to nest in as these have been felled. And in my passage through the KNP this seems to be en-masse in certain areas.

    Seeing this phenomenon with some horror got me doing some reading and research.

    How many elephants are there in the KNP and when last was a census conducted? This was a question posed by the MP Dave Bryant in Parliament in February this year.

    An official document from the KNP listed the number of elephants counted based on a total aerial census undertaken in 2015 at 17 086 elephants that year. The written answer to the question posed in Parliament and replied to in March this year was that the last count that was undertaken was in 2017, two years after the one referred to. This census resulted in an estimate of between 21 000 and 23 700 elephants to be present in the KNP in that 2017 year. Now I am not a statistician but I would guess that the midway point of 22 350 would be reasonable to take as the number of elephants in the KNP in 2017 which means that in the two years since the total aerial census of 2015, the density of the elephants in the park grew by 5 264. If this is indeed correct it translates into an annual compounded growth rate of over 14% per annum over those two years. Should this growth rate be sustained through to today, by simple extrapolation it means that by the end of this 2021 year there will be close to 39 000 elephants in the KNP.

    The information that I have dug up indicates that adolescent bulls are the ones that push over trees - they can do so easily purely to show off their strength. And no, it is not so as to browse off the foliage or the roots. I have seen an elephant push over a tree and then simply walk away from the felled tree. That was one more tree removed as a potential nesting site for the martial eagle.

    By the way, when last did you see a martial eagle? I am told that it only nests in the KNP and the Kalagadi.

    Food for thought this is - so I am continuing with my reading and research. I have sunk my teeth into it.

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  32. #40
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    Default Re: Elephants in the KNP

    Elephant density is a difficult issue, and one would think type of vegetation as well as the size area in which they roam will give an indication of how many per hectare or however this is defined.

    As far as the KNP is concerned, the greater KNP with Klaserie etc, and the Mozambique/Limpopo section does increase the size of the area quite a lot.

    In March I did 2 back to back 3 day/night walks in the KNP, that was the Lonely Bull as well as the Mphongolo.

    We had elephants every day, and on the Mphongolo many breeding herds per day.

    On both walks we also came across a few of the closed waterholes with the wind pumps not working anymore.

    We had a few discussions around the closure of the waterholes and it is evident that even amongst researchers around elephant strategies (as with everything else) there are different opinions.

    I made a small video of the walk. I could have put more elephants in the video, but then it would have been too long and boring.
    https://youtu.be/p89rGQfToMw
    Last edited by Sandjan; 2021/05/04 at 04:38 PM. Reason: video link changed
    JP Botha
    Kleinbaai
    Gansbaai

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