But there are a number of wildlife reserves in Southern Africa where elephant populations are flourishing. I'm not qualified to comment on whether these reserves have an overpopulation problem or not, but amongst those that are qualified to comment, opinions are divided. The Kruger National Park has in excess of 16 000 elephants and these numbers are growing.
This was brought home to me in a very real way while I was camera-trapping there recently. My cameras probably recorded more elephants than any other mammal species at the water-holes where they were installed. They were so abundant in one area that I decided it would be financially irresponsible to leave cameras there (even though I consider losing the odd camera to be an occupational hazard!).
Herewith a few of the many camera-trap images:
What particularly struck me was the high proportion of youngsters in the breeding herds. For many of them it won't be long before they too are consuming in excess of 100kg of vegetation per day.
There is lots to love about elephants - their intelligence, gentleness and the way they care for their ill and elderly members. But I've just added another reason to love them: because they didn't mess with my cameras! There is no doubt that they knew the cameras were there but they left them alone, and as a result we can enjoy these photos.
And that is more than we can say about another iconic mammal that I will blog about shortly.....