Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Trump: Fake News And Unnamed Sources

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Trump Administration, Trukey Crackdown, French Presidential Race (part 1)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Trump Administration, Trukey Crackdown, French Presidential Race (part 2)

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Aux Champs-Elysées: The story behind France's most famous avenue

Read more

#TECH 24

Foosball gets its own social network

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Inlays and veneers: The art of French cabinetmaking

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

How should companies respond to a Trump Twitter attack?

Read more

#THE 51%

Trump abortion funding ban: Europe tries to fill the breach

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: India’s Kuki people, possible descendants of one of Israel's lost tribes

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

We meet the people behind fascinating environmental, health and technological innovations in a bid for sustainable solutions to our changing world. Saturday at 7.20 pm. You can watch it online as early as Friday.

Latest update : 2013-10-14

Birth control in the savannah

In South Africa, efforts to protect elephants have been so effective that today there are too many and they are destructive. Humans have created the problem, humans are trying to solve it...using birth control.

Unlike other parts of the continent where poaching is having a devastating effect on elephant numbers, South Africa is facing the opposite problem: there are too many elephants for the available park space.

Since culling was banned in the mid-nineties elephant numbers have surged to unmanageable levels. To limit the ever-expanding population scientists have turned to birth control.

This week Down to Earth visits the Welgevonden Game Reserve north of Johannesburg where the elephant herd receives annual contraception. The process involves flying a helicopter low over the reserve and darting the elephants directly from the air.

The contraception is in fact a vaccine, made from a protein extracted from pig ovaries. The vaccine produces antibodies that prevent the elephant sperm from fertilising the egg. It’s known as immunocontraception.

While the vaccine is reversible, some of the country's eminent elephant experts object to using such a birth control vaccine to treat a problem created by humans.

By Mairead DUNDAS , Marina BERTSCH , Juliette LACHARNAY

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2017-02-15 environment

DIY: Zero Waste

Imagine a world without trash or landfills. Every year, 1.3 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste are thrown away around the world - and that number is expected to...

Read more

2017-01-31 environment

Making the ultimate sacrifice for the planet

All over the planet, environmental activists put their lives on the line - to save a tree, stop the construction of a dam or an airport. In 2015, 185 environmental activists were...

Read more

2017-01-23 France

France's nuclear strategy: Full speed ahead, for now

Built in 1977, France's oldest nuclear plant should never have celebrated its 40th birthday. François Hollande promised voters and his Green party allies that if elected, he...

Read more

2016-07-14 women

Women and work: Why parity could add trillions to global growth

The world is a better place for women and girls in 2016 than even a decade ago. But that's not the case for everyone, and certainly not everywhere. Access to job opportunities is...

Read more

2016-07-01 environment

Extinction crisis: Saving the planet's species from an irreversible fate

Species are disappearing faster than at any time since the dinosaurs' demise. Scientists are calling it the sixth mass extinction and it's largely driven by man. This week the...

Read more