Giant African Gamba grass, introduced in the 1930s, has taken over the Australian outback, crowding out native plants and seriously increasing the risk of massive bush fires. David Bowman of the University of Tasmania thinks the most viable way to get rid of it is to introduce things that eat it in Africa, like elephants.

“I’m talking about using elephants as a machine or ecological tool to manage this grass,” he said in an interview for the Guardian, acknowledging that his proposal is radical and has major risks associated with it.

Not least among the risks: Australia has a notable problem with getting completely overrun by invasive species. It’s not clear what makes anyone think this will be less of a disaster than the toads, the air-conditioner-eating camels, or the rabbits. And good luck containing these giant herbivores with an “elephant-proof fence.”

“If we did go down the road of introducing elephants to Australia, we had better develop the technology to clone saber-tooth tigers to eventually control the elephants,” [said Ricky Spencer, senior lecturer with the Native and Pest Animal unit at the University of Western Sydney.]

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.


Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.