Kruger Elephants Under Threat

The Kruger National Park is home to roughly 16 000 elephants that roam the 19,485 km², yet they are under constant threat from poachers using the corridor between the park and the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. Last year 22 of these big grey beasts were poached in Kruger alone, while the number for 2016 is already on 15.

World Elephant Day was celebrated on 12 August with the aim of shining a light on the plight of these animals as well as to find solutions for better management of captive and wild elephants. And in a couple of weeks’ time, in September, Johannesburg will host the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17), where there will be heated discussions between those who want to sell stockpiled ivory and others who want them see destroyed. South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia are proposing that international trade be re-opened so that they can legally sell stockpiled ivory in 2017.
In the meantime, poaching of elephants in KNP has been on the rise in the last couple of years. But it is not only the ivory that these poachers are after. The illegal wildlife trade is further fuelled by the elephants’ meat and other body parts, like leather.
There are however ventures under way, like the Emerging Tusker Project, that according to SANParks spokesperson William Mabasa, will help improve the understanding of these animals and ensure future visitors will be able to appreciate them. Scientists in KNP are reviewing these animals to recognise all the Park’s large tuckers and outline their home ranges.
KNP is home to some of the elephants with the largest tusks in South Africa and the Magnificent 7 was launched in the 1980’s as a way to honour these magnificent animals. The Emerging Tusker Project is a continuation of this project.