The life of an elephant that faces being shot for being a ‘nuisance’ is hanging in the balance as animal campaigners in South Africa fight in court to keep him alive.
Riff Raff’s habit of trampling fences to gain access to land that belonged to him for more than half his life has led neighbours of his reserve to apply to have him killed.
A fence was erected in the middle of his home in the The Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve in Limpopo during one of the region’s worst droughts – cutting him off from a water source and land that he had used unhindered for 13 years.
The bull elephant faces being shot to death despite the fact that campaigners from Humane Society International/Africa and Global Supplies have found him a new home 250 miles away.
It looked as though Riff Raff’s days were numbered when permission to relocate him was turned down by the Limpopo government.
But at the last-minute Judge M.G. Phatudi intervened and on Tuesday granted Riff Raff a temporary stay of execution.
The decision by the government’s Economic Development, Environment and Tourism to reject the plan to relocate the elephant must now be reviewed by the court.
HSI/Africa has been trying to save Riff Raff for two years and even relocated him to a new reserve last year when neighbouring landowners threatened to apply to have him killed.
But the elephant turned around and walked the 40-mile journey back to his original territory, and back in the line of fire.
Audrey Delsink, Wildlife Director of HSI/Africa, said: ‘Riff Raff is a magnificent bull elephant who symbolises the growing problem here in South Africa of lethal solutions being sought to solve human-elephant conflict.
‘Many elephants who are labelled a problem are simply bull elephants following what they are biologically hard-wired to do – leave their herd to find their own new range with unrelated females so that they can move up in the bull hierarchy and sire offspring.
‘With crops and human settlements common in and around elephant protection areas, they often encounter fences, and then all too often land-owners seek to solve fence-breaking behaviour with a rifle.
‘In Riff Raff’s case, a fence was erected in the middle of his home range during one of the region’s worst droughts, cutting him off from a water source and land that he had used unhindered for 13 years.’
‘We very much hope that the review process will assess the exceptional circumstances of Riff Raff’s case, address the ill-judged historical decisions that have led to this conflict, and set an important precedent by overturning Limpopo’s refusal to let us relocate Riff Raff again.’
An independent study facilitated through the Elephant Specialist Advisory Group revealed that up to 50 destruction permits were issued between 2016-2017 to kill so-called problem elephants. ·
Conservationists in South Africa are concerned that destruction orders are being used by landowners as a quick fix to get rid of elephants rather than be inconvenienced by having to implement elephant-friendly management plans for their land.
HSI/Africa’s Delsink added ‘If the decision is upheld and Riff Raff is killed through a destruction permit, it will be a tragedy not only for this amazing animal but for all so-called ‘problem’ elephants across South Africa who face a similar fate.
‘While we have no guarantee that Riff Raff’s relocation to the new reserve would be successful, as care-takers of the natural world, all stakeholders have a moral obligation to find non-lethal solutions to these human-wildlife conflict challenges.
‘We share this land with these magnificent giants, it should be utterly unthinkable to kill them simply because it’s easier than managing the land in a way that considers their biological drivers.
‘The travesty is compounded by the fact that the body mandated to protect these animals is the same one issuing these destruction permits.’
HSI/Africa is extremely grateful to have been represented in court by Hogan Lovells.
Read original article here: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6882393/Elephant-faces-shot-nuisance-South-Africa-given-hope.html