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The Killing Fields of South Africa: Eco-Wars, Species Apartheid, and Total Liberation

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full article: http://www.bestcyrano.org/THOMASPAINE/?p=1201

The Killing Fields of South Africa: Eco-Wars, Species Apartheid, and Total Liberation [1]

By Dr. Steven Best

11/04/08

"Animals are those unfortunate slaves and victims of the most brutal part of mankind." John Stuart Mill

In South Africa, the elephant has emerged at the center of heated political debates and culture wars, as the government and national park system maneuvers to return to the practice of "culling"--a hideous euphemism for mass murder of elephants.[2] Culling advocates--including government officials, park service bureaucrats, ecologists, "conservationists," large environmental organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund, farmers, and villagers--argue that elephants have had deleterious effects on habitat and biodiversity and their herds need to be "managed" and reduced. Farmers and villagers complain that elephants are breaking reserve fences, destroying their crops, competing with their livestock for food, endangering physical safety and sometimes attacking and killing humans. The consensus among these parties is that biodiversity, ecological balance, and human interests trump the lives and interests of elephants, and that the most efficient solution to the "elephant problem" is the final solution of culling thousands of lives.

Opponents of culling include animal activists in South Africa and the world at large, ecologists, and thousands of Western tourists fond of elephants and the desire to see them in their natural habitat. In addition to the moral argument that elephants have intrinsic value and the right to exist--quite independent of their utility for humans--critics dismiss the claim that elephants threaten habitats and biodiversity. They emphasize that numerous alternatives to controlling elephant populations other than gunning them down exist, such as contraceptives and creating corridors between parks to allow more even population distribution. Against hunters and villagers alike, many culling opponents argue that elephants are worth much more alive than dead, and that elephants and humans alike win by developing the potential of ecotourism. The ethically and scientifically correct policies are not being adopted, critics argue, because government and "conservationists" are allied with the gaming, hunting, and ivory industries, and all favor a "quick fix" over a real solution. Animal advocates worry that the resumption of culling will reopen the global trade of ivory and argue that the ivory industry is driving this policy change.

This essay supports the rights of elephants to live and thrive in suitable natural environments and opposes all justifications for culling elephants and exploiting African wildlife in general.[3] My purview is much broader than elephants, hunting, and the ivory trade, however, as I see the human-elephant "conflict" as a microcosm of the global social and ecological crisis that involves phenomena such as transnational corporate power, state totalitarianism, militarism, chronic conflict and warfare, terrorism, global warming, species



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