I had spent it with Kruger Park game ranger Jack Greef, who had been dispatching African elephants with high-velocity 7.62 bullets fired behind their ears and into their brains.
,Don,t ask me if I enjoyed today,, Jack
warned me gruffly. ,Elephants are beautiful creatures.
team killed an entire family of 300 matriarchs and youngsters that day, in the annual cull that kept the Kruger elephant population at a steady 7500 to prevent heavy destruction of vegetation and allow other species to flourish.
I expect next year to sit again with someone like Jack Greef
at the end of a day of culling, a highly complex exercise, with vultures settled in the trees all around and hyenas and wild dogs lurking in the distance, as ,disposal teams, of Shangaans, some of the best trackers and bush experts on the African continent, clad in white boots and overalls, move among the circle of dead elephants.
They will perform their necessary but grisly chores , first slitting the great beasts, throats with a single panga slash, causing immense rivers of blood to flow, and then eviscerating the elephants, at which point scientists will move in to remove treasured bits of tissue for research.As Jack and I watched in 1992, samples were taken, for example, from foetuses of dead cow elephants, which were to be sent to a zoologist at Australia,s Monash University, recruited by the Kenyan Parks Board to produce a contraceptive for its wild elephants.