A TOP wildlife presenter has sparked rage by condoning the shooting of elephants.
Chris Packham, who fronts the BBC’s Autumnwatch programme, claimed there were too many animals on the planet and culls should be used to control their numbers.
In an interview with Radio Times he said: “The deer population in the UK, many would argue, is way too great. We have to cull deer because they are no natural predators and that means killing things. We have to cull elephants in Africa.
“People come to shoot near where I live and they ask me where the deer are and I tell them ‘The deer are over there, go and blast!’ Because frankly I can see the benefits.”
But conservationists hit out.
Will Travers, of the Born Free Foundation said elephant culls were “a short term fix, not a long term solution”.
He said: “Culling is not only objectionable, but completely unnecessary and illogical given the number of alternatives available.”
He admitted the animals can cause problems in parts of Africa but said numbers had slumped – from 1.3 million in 1979 to 450,000.
He said in small populations contraceptive measures worked well.
And earlier this month South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana removed fences along their borders to create a protected area the size Sweden for elephants to roam.
He said: “If you confine them in small areas they can come into conflict with humans but if you have a large area they can live within their natural cycle.”
Mr Travers also warned that culls fuel the ivory trade and this can encourage poaching.
The recent furore is not the first time Packham has sparked controversy for his views on nature.
Two years ago he called for the giant panda to be allowed to become extinct., saying they were in “an evolutionary cul-de-sac”.
“He said “It’s not a strong species.
“unfortunately it’s big and cute and it’s a symbol for the World Wildlife Fund, and we pour millions of pounds into panda conservation.
“Pull the plug. Let them go with a degree of dignity.”
He later said that giving money to tiger charities was a waste of time.
He said: “Tiger conservation is a multi-million pound business that isn’t working.
“If it were a FTSE 100, it would have gone bankrupt. I’m not saying the conservation agencies don’t have their hearts in the right place but the results are disasterous.”