Faced with an overabundant elephant population amid the difficult context of the land reform programme in Zimbabwe, SavÃ© Valley Conservancy (SVC) applied for an annual management quota of 60 animals in 2008 with the objectives of controlling an increasing population, attracting goodwill from the surrounding rural communities by providing a protein source and reducing the illegal bushmeat trade. Eighty-nine elephants were cropped in eight separate hunts during 2009 and 2010 providing 41 tonnes of meat. With adequate air-support, the cropping of family herds was feasibly and humanely conducted by skilled professional hunters. The handling of carcasses and the preservation of large quantities of meat were technically challenging on site. Because of the high demand for fresh meat, the processing facilities to extend meat shelf-life could not be tested. Cropping elephants remains a costly exercise at around US$550 per carcass. Cost recovery is possible with the sale of meat, offal and hides, but in this study was only partially achieved due to mismanagement of product delivery and sale. With 2.3 kg purchased per buyer, the production of meat partially satisfied the local population demand but offered an opportunity to the game meat producers to establish social links with their neighbours. To observe long-term impact on the illegal bushmeat trade currently affecting the SVC we suggest careful monitoring of future harvests.
Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s):
Bel, SÃ©bastien Le Stansfield Fiona Grange Mike La Taylor Russell