The elephants were killed last week even though the provincial nature conservation body, Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, did not have permits to shoot them.
Parks and People general manager Sifiso Kheswa defended the shooting of the two animals, saying that there had been numerous phone calls from locals who had contacted him to complain that the animals were threatening them.
But the shooting was also possibly in violation of Ezemvelo’s policy on dealing with problem animals – which is that, whenever possible, problem animals should be chased away from people or darted and relocated.
The two elephants had been in the same area close to the Tembe Park for more than three weeks, and according to Ezemvelo staff, had not attacked any humans.
They had, however, walked over a small piece of agricultural land, causing minimal damage.
A retired former senior employee of Ezemvelo said that the animals had been shot, under protest, by a conservation manager. The source said that the manager had informed Kheswa that the animals posed little or no threat to humans.
He warned Kheswa in writing that there were no permits to destroy the specially protected animals. But Kheswa ordered the animals to be shot regardless.
The trunks, tusks, ears and feet were removed and the carcasses donated to a local chief.
The source said: “That was the reason the animals were shot: for their meat.
“The local chief wanted meat … Every year elephants and other animals are killed unnecessarily because locals put pressure on head office to shoot the animals – knowing they will score the meat.”