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Media Release: Minister Calls for Elephant Round Table

Date: 15th December 2005

The Minister of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, is to invite local and international scientists to debate a series of disputed propositions regarding elephant management.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs & Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, is to invite local and international scientists to debate a series of disputed propositions regarding elephant management.

The Minister recently heard presentations from a large number of stakeholders. He was struck by the lack of consensus regarding key questions related to elephant management. It was disturbing that scientists appear intolerant of each others views, said JP Louw, Head of Communications at the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

The Minister had therefore agreed to set aside another day for a Scientific Round Table early in 2006. Stakeholders would be consulted on the development of a limited number of debating points for consideration at the Round Table. They would also be asked to identify respected elephant specialists who were prepared to present their conclusions for peer review.

Louw said that questions to be addressed included:

-   Are there too many elephants?
-   Are they causing damage to biodiversity?
-   Is action needed to reduce populations?
-   Which management options are most appropriate?

Scientists from SANParks, which had already recommended to the Minister that elephant populations should be reduced (see report at http://www.sanparks.org/ ), would participate in the Round Table: Many commentators have claimed that SANParks has little or no evidence to support its recommendations. The relevant scientists have welcomed an opportunity to respond.

It is clear that we will never have enough information about biodiversity in general and elephants in particular. The Round Table will therefore help us identify lines of enquiry that need further attention in the years ahead.

Louw said that a policy framework, the so-called Draft Norms & Standards, would be published for public comment after the Round Table.

For more information, please call the Chief Director of Communications, JP Louw, at 082 569 3340

13 December 2005

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