不過就算是雨水多的時期，觀光客還是很容易看到大象。世界自然基金會（WWF）非洲象專案人員史蒂文森（Dr. P.J. Stephenson）說：「畢竟，大象是那麼巨大而壯觀的動物！」「但是，為了養活自己，大象也需要非常大量的食物和廣大的空間。」象群一天可消耗掉200公斤的植物，另外國家公園的空間也很有限；在此情況下，為了爭奪稀少的資料，大象難免與其他動物產生競爭關係，就像人類和其他動物競爭一樣。
大象在遷移覓食的過程中會把樹皮剝除，也因此危害到幾種極為重要的高大樹種，像是猴麵包樹、多種猛禽習慣於其中築巣的 knobthorn、以及marula果樹──果實富含維他命C，常用來製作果醬、果汁或酒精飲料，例如南非常見的利口酒Amarula。還有像棕櫚樹 lalla 等稀有植物，也會遭到破壞。
南非國家公園署（SANParks）保育局局長瑪格米（Dr. Hector Magome）就說：「我們的職責是經營管理和保育生物多樣性，我們必須對此採取一些行動，不只是為了保護生態系，也為了在公園週遭生活的住民，以及前來參觀的旅客。」
Southern Africa just had one of the wettest summers on record, turning its usual adobe brown sun-burnt landscapes into verdant green paradises. In South Africa's Kruger National Park, vegetation has grown thick and dried riverbeds have flooded. Wildlife haven't had to wander too far in search of food or water.
That's great for the wildlife, but not necessarily for the 1.2 million tourists who come to the world famous park each year expecting to spot the Big Five - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo - that in leaner times are easily found congregating in the open around sparse waterholes.
But even in the best of conditions one can't miss the elephants. "Elephants are such large and magnificent creatures," said Dr. P.J. Stephenson of WWF's African Elephant Programme, "but they also need a lot of food and freedom if they are to survive."
As elephants consume up to 200 kilograms of plant matter in a single day, when space is limited, as it usually is, they often come into conflict with other animal species, as well as people, who are competing for many of the same, often scarce resources.
Kruger National Park covers an area of some 20,000 km2 - about half the size of Switzerland - but it still doesn't seem big enough to accommodate a growing elephant population. Unlike many populations in Africa which remain endangered as a result of years of poaching and habitat loss, elephants in Kruger are growing at a rapid rate.
Since the park stopped culling elephants about a decade ago as a result of international pressure, numbers have gone from 7,000 to over 12,000. According to local officials, the park's habitat can only sustain about 7,000 over a long period. Any more and it will add pressure to an already fragile and carefully managed environment.
In the course of their foraging, elephants often strip the bark of trees of such important tall tree species as ancient baobabs, knobthorns - where birds of prey often make their nests - and marulas, whose fruit has an extremely high vitamin C content and is used to make jam, juices and alcoholic beverages like the popular South African liqueur Amarula. Rare plant species, such as the lalla palm, are also being damaged.
"Our obligation is to manage and conserve biodiversity," added Dr. Magome, Conservation Services Director of South African National Parks (SANParks). "We have to do something to manage the situation, both for the ecosystem, the people who live near the park and for those who visit it."
Several options are currently being considered by South Africa and other southern African range states to tackle local over-population of elephants. These include range expansion through the establishment of cross-border protected areas and protection of migration corridors, translocation to under-populated areas, contraception, and perhaps the most controversial, culling - the intentional reduction of elephant populations. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, each its costs and constraints.