Elephants are -generally speaking- a species endangered in Africa. They have been vigorously hunted for the ivory of their tusks (sometimes for the mere pleasure of hunting big game) and poaching is still intense of many African countries (from de 1.5 million animals in 1970, we are now down to around 500,000 pachyderms). The largest share of this business goes to Asian countries but elephant ivory is appreciated in many other countries all over the world.
This is why 17 African countries signed a protocol to ensure their protection. The Bamako Declaration strenghten the decisions taken in June 2007 within the fourteenth conference of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).
However, protection of a species is not a simple business once Nature is off-balance. For example, in South Africa, the elephants are no longer considered as on the brink of extinction but are becoming a source of trouble and pertubation for their own environment. They have the strong tendency to break trees where they want to reach higher branches or roots. After trying several other solutions (including oral contraception for elephants), RSA Government finally decided to approve some selective kills for culling in an attempt to limit the local populations of elephants. They doubled their inital quotas and it is a matter of reducing the risks of over-population (environmental destruction and death by lack of food or water).