In an article for the BBC News website, the former head of the Kenyan Wildlife Service says culling is “a necessary part of population management”. But Dr Leakey says there is also a responsibility to curb human activities that impinge on elephant habitat.
South Africa plans to allow culling after a gap of 14 years because of growing numbers of elephants. The population is estimated to have expanded from 8,000 to 18,000 in little more than a decade.
In some parts of the country, people have complained that the animals are dangerous, and that they eat crops and drink water intended for the human population.
The South African plan lists culling as a last resort, with measures such as better management of elephant enclosures, translocation, and contraception examined first.
Dr Leakey says, “Though I find elephant culling repugnant, I can see the sense in it (in some scenarios).”
The South African management plan sees culling becoming an option from 1st May.