An elephant out of the box

Consider all the options and all the costs


When Professor David Bowman from the University of Tasmania published an opinion piece in Nature suggesting that we introduce elephants to Australia to control an invasive grass he really set the cat amongst the pigeons. There was a loud and ferocious response ridiculing the idea as not worthy of serious debate. And yet there is much in what Professor Bowman suggested that warrants reflection.

He makes two critical points with which most conservationists would agree. First, Australian ecosystems are in a severe state of degradation due to invasive plants and animals. Invasive species have wiped out much of Australia’s natural heritage, and they continue to destroy what we have left.

Second, because of this ongoing environmental catastrophe, we need to put all of the management options on the table to try to find ways of reducing the rate at which our biodiversity succumbs to the impacts of invasive alien species and other land-management dilemmas.

He is right. We should consider introducing elephants and rhinoceros to Australia. However, this should be weighed up alongside alternative approaches for dealing with the problem…








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