Space for African elephants

13. December 2021

The sale, culling, and hunting of wild African elephant is often justified by claiming that diminishing their numbers is necessary for the conservation of the species. In other words, killing elephants is good for them because there are too many elephants for the available elephant territory.

Jared Kukura, in his blog eliminates the “lack of space”  argument as justification for killing elephants. He points out that 68% of the African continent is suitable elephant habitat, of which only 17%  is occupied by them.

In fact, Jared uses a conservative number for “desirable” elephant density of 0,2 elephants by sq. km., to calculate  how many elephants could live on the 18 million sq. km. of sustainable African elephant habitat. The result comes to 3.6 million, which is almost 10 times the number of existing pachyderms.

Why then are elephants killed and continue to be killed at rates which could drive them to extinction within 10 years?

Elephants in the Amboseli and Tsavo West National Park in Kenya. Photo credit: Heinz-Peter Schwerin / shutterstock

The simple answer is greed. The commoditization of African elephants to be sold to circuses and zoos, killing them legally for money from trophy hunters and marketing their body parts has increased profits from their slaughter beyond what short-term eco-tourism can provide. In addition, the brutality of killing elephants legally has a significant impact on killing them illegally.

The “mining” of elephants is not only an ethical dilemma, but also seriously harms the natural balance of planet earth thereby threatening our own survival.