Elephants in South Africa are overrunning their habitat, so the government is shooting them with birth control darts.
KwaZulu-Natal province, in the southeast, 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.
“Because we have taken away opportunities, they don’t have the chance to remedy the overpopulation naturally as they would through migration,” said Audrey Delsink Kettles, an elephant ecologist who has been leading studies for years on contraception at Makalali Private Game Reserve.
Testing of the vaccine, administered by dart and requiring an annual booster, has been conducted at 14 small reserves. Studies have shown it is reversible, nearly 100 percent effective and has no adverse impact on elephant health or behaviour, Kettles said.
Contraception is seen as a humane alternative for controlling populations over the other main options of culling herds or moving them vast distances to areas with more food. [Reuters]
Silly elephants. Don’t they know they can just keep an aspirin between their knees?