Animal campaigners are doing their best to keep Riff Raff the elephant alive after locals asked for the elephant to be killed for being a “nuisance” in a South African village.
Riff Raff used to live in The Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve in Limpopo. However, humans finally lived there and erected a fence during one of the region’s worst droughts, which cut Riff Raff off from a water source and the land that he has called home for 13 years.
The elephant trampled on fences to gain access to the land and water supply, but the local community believed he is being a nuisance of their land, so they ordered for Riff Raff’s death penalty.
Animal campaigners from the Humane Society International in Africa and Global Supplies have found him a new home 250 miles away, but their request to relocate the animal instead of killing him had been turned down by the Limpopo government.
However, Judge M.G. Phatudi intervened at the very last minutes and granted Riff Raff a temporary stay of execution last Tuesday.
Now, the government’s Economic Development, Environment and Tourism to reject the elephant’s relocation is now being reviewed in court.
“Riff Raff is a magnificent bull elephant who symbolizes the growing problem here in South Africa of lethal solutions being sought to solve human-elephant conflict,” Audrey Delsink, wildlife director of HSI/Africa said in a statement.
“With crops and human settlements common in and around elephant protection areas, they often encounter fences, and then all too often land-owners seek to solve fence-breaking behavior with a rifle,” she added.
Elephant Specialist Advisory Group facilitated an independent study before and found that up to 50 destruction permits were issued between 2016 and 2017 that called for the killing of “problem elephants.”
South African conservationists are concerned about the growing complaint warrants from villagers who put elephants on death row just because they are being inconvenienced by them.
“We share this land with these magnificent giants, it should be utterly unthinkable to kill them simply because it’s easier than managing the land in a way that considers their biological drivers,” Delsink said.