Elephants Facts and Fables
April 2010

Personal opinion, hearsay, anecdotes and individual interpretations of research findings all too often dominate heated debates on elephant management. General statements such as ‘there are too many elephants’, or that ‘elephants destroy biodiversity’, motivate calls for management. Media reports often boost such calls and often describe the ‘elephant problem’ in terms of numbers and the rates at which numbers change over time. This, combined with the selective use of words such as ‘destroy’, ‘destruction’, ‘extreme’, and ‘overabundance’ can imply that the elephant problem resides in numbers and growth rates and that numbers should be managed to reduce the impact of elephants on other species.This assumption is flawed and just one of many examples that can be used to illustrate how a misconception on elephant management is generated through personal interpretations. It therefore is not surprising that fables replace facts when proposing solutions for the ‘elephant problem’, or when discussing elephant conservation.

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