Published: Thursday 29 February 1996

-- While conservationists across the world are raising an alarm over depleting numbers of elephants, wildlife managers in South Africa's Kruger National Park are trying to check its jumbo population by culling. But under fire from animal rights activists, they have decided to reduce culling by half. "In order to maintain an ecological balance, animals have to be taken out," says conservation officer Chris Vonderlender.

Since the '60s, culling has been going on with 300-400 pachyderms being drugged and shot each year. While in most parts of Africa elephants have nearly become extinct due to poaching, in South Africa and Zimbabwe, they are in excess. But animal rights activists have alleged that culling is being done more for commercial reasons than for conservation. Each elephant carcass is converted into products worth more than US $22,000. South Africa is now lobbying for revocation of the international ban in the trade of elephant products which was imposed in 1989.

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