South African Animal Park Protects Endangered Species

South Africa’s Addo National Park is home to a number of endangered species, such as black rhino and Cape buffalo. The largest of its animal populations is a breed of female bull elephant that have no tusks but have evolved quickly during the 20th Century. According to The New York Times, 90 to 95 percent of Addo’s 300 female elephants lack tusks and, consequently, have been spared a scourge of the elephant species: poaching.

According to The Times poachers would specifically target elephants with tusks so the tuskless female elephants were left alone and were able to breed with minimal interference. Interestingly enough, tuskless female elephant populations have grown in Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda. However, even in Addo, most of their bull elephants have tusks but they are much smaller than other elephants which, fortunately, is a hindrance to poachers too.

Elephant tusks are a hot commodity due to their being the sole source of ivory and animal poaching can be lucrative so long as animal populations are plentiful. However, despite the lack of tusks, park management is still very cautious with armed patrols and an elaborate security system, since poachers are now targeting elephants for their hides. The Times states that there is a growing demand elephant hide leather in China and elephant hides are used as ingredients in some traditional Chinese remedies. Thankfully, the dense bush surrounding Addo makes it extremely difficult, if not outright dangerous, for poachers to try to access the animal refuge.

Addo National Park was founded in 1931 to preserve eleven elephants since it was determined that at the time that the animal species was nearly extinct. Over time, the park accepted other breeds of animals and it has fulfilled its mission handsomely. The venue is funded by a variety of different sources geared toward animal conservation and most of its revenue is generated by grants issued by conservation-oriented non-profit foundations, and the venue also charges fees for visits and tours respectfully. Addo’s successful efforts at animal preservation is another example of how private, voluntary pursuits are better able to protect life than the environmentalist movement’s notion of seeking to protect endangered species by government edict.