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S.Africa goes big on birth control for elephants

Published on Aug 15, 2012 8:48 PM
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A pair of elephants walk through scrub in the dusk light in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa on April 19, 2012. KwaZulu-Natal province, in the south-east, is looking to expand a project running for more than a decade where elephants populations have been controlled by injecting cows with a vaccine that triggers an immune system response to block sperm reception. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

JOHANNESBURG (REUTERS) - A South African province home to thousands of elephants is planning a birth control campaign for the pachyderms to prevent a population explosion that could threaten plants and wildlife.

Unlike other parts of Africa where elephant stocks have dwindled to dangerously low levels due to poaching and a loss of habitat, South Africa has seen its populations steadily grow through conservation, with the country pressed for room to house the massive animals with hefty diets.

KwaZulu-Natal province, in the south-east, is looking to expand a project running for more than a decade where elephants populations have been controlled by injecting cows with a vaccine that triggers an immune system response to block sperm reception.

"Slowing the growth rate will allow time to be gained to achieve other biodiversity objectives, such as land expansion, without having to cull the elephants," said Dr Catherine Hanekom, an ecologist for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

 
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