Legislation Supposedly Destroys Safari Industry
"Elephants regarded as useless as rats"
By Elise Tempelhoff
Die Beeld South Africa
It is the beginning of the end for elephant backed safaris in South Africa.
This effectively will be the case should draft legislation for the management of elephants in captivity be accepted and finalised.
Elephant backed safaris are a controversial industry that is worth millions of rands annually. The legislation will also prevent the use of any additional elephants for elephant backed safaris, except those already trained and those currently kept in circuses.
Mr. Rory Hensman, owner of Elephants for Africa Forever (EFAF) and a well known elephant trainer, said yesterday that it remains unclear why the government is trying to "pull the carpet from under the industry" that will result in elephants "becoming as useless as rats"
Animal welfare organisations such as Public Watch, Four Paws South Africa, IFAW, the National Council for SPCAs and other organisations in Zimbabwe that work to promote animal welfare welcomed the new draft legislation.
They are of the opinion that decision makes have taken into account the reports from various scientists that study elephant behaviour when they laid down concept legislation.
Hensman said that it is clear that government officials of the relevant conservation departments have been hijacked by animal welfare groups.
The concept legislation that has now been put down for public comment, outlaws the training and taming of elephants by means of prodders, sticks or sjamboks or any other instruments that may cause pain or discomfort.
Louise Joubert of the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary, a protected reserve and rehabilitation centre near Gravelotte said that should the concept legislation be accepted and applied it would be impossible to tame or train elephants in the future. This will prevent the expansion of the elephant backed safari industry.
In accordance with the intended new legislation young elephants may not be removed from their mothers. Only family groups may be captured with the intent to tame and hold them.
Karen Trendler, a wildlife rehabilitator that was involved with the recent rehabilitation and subsequent relocation and release of a group of captured elephants of Mr. Basil Steyn of The Elephant Experience in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, the new legislation should be welcomed. She believes the legislation will help elephants in captivity and it should also result in elephants being removed from circuses; like it just happened in India.
Treat the animals as follows:
The concept legislation also requires that:
• African elephant are not kept in groups smaller than 10 adults.
• During training and taming sessions elephants may not be deprived of their sleep.
• Enclosures may not be "too small".
• Elephants may not be kept in isolation away from each other
• They must have enough "free time" and may not be "over-used"
• Detailed records must be kept of each elephant including photographs.