By Veneranda Langa
Parliament has urged government to consider introducing contraceptives to control the country’s ever-increasing elephant population.
This comes amid reports that the jumbo population had trebled above the country’s carrying capacity and was causing numerous human-wildlife conflicts in rural areas located near game parks.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water and Tourism chaired by Annastancia Ndhlovu made the recommendation on Tuesday following a familiarisation tour of Hwange National Park and the surrounding communities.
Ndhlovu said some of the areas which experienced human-wildlife conflicts were Hwange, Tsholotsho, Lupane, Dete, Binga and Victoria Falls.
“Contraception is an option that government needs to explore further though the authority (Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority) may need to be sufficiently informed about the latest advances in elephant contraception so that it makes informed decisions about whether to use this technology,” Ndhlovu said.
“Contraception is a method which can be used to control the explosive growth of the elephant population, and fertility control and immune contraception is an effective means of slowing the population growth rate within small reserves,” she said.
The committee noted that the elephant population at Hwange National Park alone was 45 000, surpassing the ecological carrying capacity by threefold.
“This means they have an annual increase rate of 2 250 elephants and in a decade’s time the park would be home to over 75 000 elephants if no mitigatory measures were taken to arrest the issue.”
The committee advised the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority to also consider culling and export sales under guidance from CITES.