The first news about wildlife I would like to share here is about a tragedy happened on 30th December 2013. Yes, it is more than one year ago, but lest we forget. The backdrop of the incident was the world famous Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa.
In brief, on that day, a male elephant in KNP charged a car of a British couple, and a British woman was injured. The story did not finish here. That male elephant was then killed by KNP with the ‘reason’ that the elephant had exhibited similar aggressive behaviors before and therefore was regarded as a threat to tourists.
It was outrageous for the public including myself. It is unbelievably sad that the priority of such a world class National Park seems is not to protect our wildlife but the tourism.
Other tourists captured the process of the incident in video and uploaded it to the Internet, which will make you even more furious as when the reason why the elephant attacked the car unfolded. It is an incident shall never happen in the first place and totally avoidable.
The bullet was cheap, but the price of the life of that innocent male elephant for the irresponsible behaviours of some tourists was far too high.
Apart from blaming the people who put the video on social media and irresponsible tourists, I did not see SANParks, which manages KNP, itself took any responsibility causing the death of that innocent elephant. Of course there are always irresponsible tourists, but when SANParks admitted that their resources were already stretched with many operations, shall they consider reduce the number of permits for self-game drives, or even stop it all when there is insufficient resources, particularly for patrolling, to monitor the behaviours of self-game drives tourists? If blaming tourists irresponsible behaviours as the cause of the problem, what’s the accountability of SANParks in managing its programs to prevent irresponsible behaviours of tourists from happening in the first place?
It may sound justifiable enough to kill the elephant for the safety of tourists, but please do not forget it had been the elephant’s natural habitat (we call it National Park does not change the fact), and the elephant just behaved naturally upon intimidating behaviours by the tourists. I understand that tourism is important to many people’s lives in South Africa, but it is not an excuse to kill the innocent elephant.
The reason I chose this incident as the first wildlife news to share is that it has actually paved the way to establish Wild Connections. When the news came up at the very beginning of 2014, many others in the world had started petitions trying to hold SANParks accountable for the elephant’s death. Few others and myself also wanted to act on this matter. We talked about to create a Facebook page, get enough momentum of discussion and then start another petition. All were great ideas for seeking justice for that innocent elephant and preventing similar tragedy from happening again. I spent time on researching the related news, reading SANParks’ annual report, and even trying to find out what’s the legal stance for SANParks to kill the elephant.
Reading till here, you probably are very eager to know what we have achieved. Unfortunately, there was nothing. We all dropped the ball for various reasons. Nowadays, we constantly feel outrageous for many injustices happened in our world. The emotions of sadness, anger, empathy or others have created the thinking of ‘we need to do something about it’ in our mind. Nevertheless, how many times we have made it happen? The incident and our attempted efforts have reminded me that determination and commitments are the essential elements to transform passion into actions. It’s exactly the purpose of establishing Wild Connections.
I share this news also with the hope that more people could behave responsibly when they are approaching wildlife and be the people power to monitor the performance of all National Parks in the world.
(Video of the incident)
(the media release by the South African National Parks (SANParks) responding to the public outcry)