atepper (atepper) wrote in oikos775,

“Disney Vet Brings Elephant Vasectomies to Africa”
I enjoyed this article. By bringing up the issue of elephant population control, it evokes the larger issues of human control of nature. At the same time the topic is hilarious in its absurdity, which is probably why it was reported in the first place.

As a piece of environmental writing, the article is thought-provoking and fun to read. It manages this without using imagery or directly addressing philosophical issues. The writer does not take a stand, but it does provide the opinions of various scientists. I would have preferred that it go into more detail in examining the extent and types of problems surrounding a large elephant population instead of just mentioning that there is controversy about the issue. However it is a short article so that can be expected.

It did serve to get me thinking about elephant population control and since the goal of environmental writing is in part to make the reader think about and question their views of the environment, the article is a success. After reading the article I went from having no opinions on elephant vasectomies to being an opponent of them.

Beyond questioning whether the elephant population needs to be controlled, the article explores other methods of population control: killing and culling. The killing option is not discussed at length but the article does mentioned that around the world, elephants are viewed as a symbol for conservation efforts and so perhaps killing elephants is not something the people in power want to talk about. Culling is cited as being disruptive to the social structure of the elephant population and also a cause of violence towards humans from elephants. So I gather from the article that birth-control is the politically safe way of dealing with the problem. But of course it is an absurd, even criminal solution, considering the health-care shortages around the world. If the elephant population level is truly a problem, then it should be dealt with in the most cost-effective way. I conclude from this that the final outcome of the elephant situation will be a program to shoot elephants in a quiet way. However, with this new vasectomy procedure available, and articles being written about the subject, it will now be hard to keep any solutions to the problem quiet. This could result in the population not being controlled –perhaps resulting in larger nature parks and more nature. Even though the author does not seem to have an agenda, by reporting on the topic they are increasing nature awareness and possibly the existence of natural places.
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