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South Africa in “Severe” Drought: To relieve impact Rangers kill 350 Hippos, Buffalos in Wildlife Park

South Africa's parks service stopped killing elephants to reduce overpopulation in 1994, partly because of public opposition

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a herd of buffalo pass by in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, Aug. 7, 2016. Rangers are killing about 350 hippos and buffalo in an attempt to relieve the impact of a severe drought. VOA

Rangers in South Africa’s biggest wildlife park are killing about 350 hippos and buffalos in an attempt to relieve the impact of the region’s most severe drought in more than three decades.

The numbers of hippos and buffalos in Kruger National Park, about 7,500 and 47,000 respectively, are at their highest level ever, according to the national parks service. Officials plan to distribute meat from the killed animals to poor communities on the park’s perimeter.

The drought has left millions of people across several countries in need of food aid.

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Hippos and buffalos consume large amounts of vegetation, and many animals are expected to die anyway because of the drought, said Ike Phaahla, a parks service spokesman. A drought in the early 1990s reduced Kruger park’s buffalo population by more than half to about 14,000, but the population rebounded.

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Rangers are targeting hippos in “small natural pools where they have concentrated in unnatural high densities, defecate in the water, making it unusable to other animals,” Phaahla wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Parks officials have described drought as a natural way of regulating wildlife populations. Earlier this year, they said they didn’t plan any major intervention to try to save wild species in Kruger park, but the drought’s impact intensified. Hippos are in particular trouble because they can’t feed as widely as other animals, returning to water by day after grazing by night.

South Africa’s parks service stopped killing elephants to reduce overpopulation in 1994, partly because of public opposition.

Around 1900, hunting had cleared out elephants in the area that became Kruger park. Today, there are an estimated 20,000 elephants there. Poachers killed 36 elephants this year in the park, raising concerns that the Africa-wide slaughter of elephants for their ivory is finally affecting South Africa.

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Poachers have already killed large numbers of rhinos in the park, which borders Zimbabwe and Mozambique and is almost the size of Israel.

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Generations ago, an estimated 15,000 people lived in the area that was officially proclaimed as Kruger park in 1926. Some communities were removed from the wildlife reserve under white minority rule at that time.

“These people were pure hunter-gatherers and we greatly underestimate their role in shaping this ecosystem,” Phaahla said. “We have removed this important driver from the Kruger ecosystem and we are researching ways to simulate the return of their role again and the removals or offtakes (of some animals) aim to do just that.” (VOA)

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    This just goes to show overpopulation is a menace in each and every kind of community. Such a large scale killing breaks my heart

  • Manthra koliyer

    The animals should not be attacked due to droughts. I wonder what is the BLUE CROSS doing?

Next Story

Light Pollution at Night Disrupts Ecosystem, Says Study

In addition, invertebrates became less reliant on food sources that originate in the water when they were exposed to moderate light levels, results showed

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Pollution, U.S., Trump
Light Pollution at Night Disrupts Ecosystem, Says Study. VOA

Increased exposure to artificial or outdoor light, referred to as light pollution, at night not only raises health concerns for humans but can also significantly harm the entire ecosystem, says a new study.

The study showed that light at night affects species’ composition as well as their food chain length.

“Night-time light is having profound impacts that extend to the entire ecosystem,” said Mazeika Sullivan, Associate Professor from the Ohio State University in the US.

Artificial light is a pollutant, changing the natural course of life for people, animals and plants.

“We are experiencing this pollution that we do not think about, but it is all around us and it is chronic and it is happening everywhere. It is also unprecedented in earth’s history,” Sullivan added.

For the study, the team examined the effect of existing artificial light in streams and they manipulated the light in wetlands.

Smog, Air pollution
The study showed that light at night affects species’ composition as well as their food chain length. VOA

From those areas, they collected a variety of water-dwelling and land-dwelling invertebrate species, including mayflies, water bugs, ants and spiders.

Findings, published in the journal of Ecological Applications, demonstrated that species’ composition changed with an increase in light intensity.

They also discovered that the food chain length of the invertebrate communities shortened with more light, indicating that the ecosystem is less complex.

“Decreases in food chain length are a pretty big deal as it reflects not just changes in the architecture of an ecosystem — the numbers of various species — but also shifts in ecosystem stability and nutrient flows,” said Sullivan.

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In addition, invertebrates became less reliant on food sources that originate in the water when they were exposed to moderate light levels, results showed.

Interventions such as carefully directing light, using motion sensors to activate lights only when they are needed and dimming them when human activity is minimal could all have the potential to lessen the effects of lighting near wildlife, the study noted. (IANS)