Conservation vs Preservation – Bringing Clarity to the Confusion

In the context of the natural world ‘Conservation’ and ‘Preservation’ are the two essential arms of ‘wildlife management’.

They are not synonyms because they each have a distinct and vital purpose. It is incorrect to believe that ‘conservation’ is just another word for ‘wildlife management’ because that is not the case at all. ‘Conservation’ is, in fact, subjugate to management because it represents only one arm (or function) of the management activity.

Wild animals occur in different populations. Some populations are SAFE (numerous and breeding well) others are UNSAFE (small in number and shrinking). UNSAFE populations are on the road to local extinction.

SAFE populations can and should be harvested sustainably, in one or many different ways, every year. They can be culled and/or hunted without adversely affecting the SAFETY of the population – provided the ‘take off’ is sustainable; provided the take off does not exceed the population’s incremental rate; and provided the take off is repeatable year after year.

The wildlife management strategy that is applied to SAFE animal populations is called ‘conservation management’ and it implies sustainable ‘use’ or sustainable ‘consumptive management’ of one kind or another.

If UNSAFE populations are to be saved from extinction, they require the application of a man-conceived management strategy that ‘protects them from all harm’. It is called ‘preservation management’. The purpose of applying a preservation management strategy to an UNSAFE animal population is to make it, once again, SAFE. UNSAFE populations should not be used in any way by man.

The concepts of ‘Conservation’ and ‘Preservation’, therefore, are essential brother-sister wildlife management tools that cannot and must not be separated; yet the strategies have to be applied separately.

Wildlife management needs both strategies if it is to be complete.

We should, therefore, not call animal rightists (the anti-hunters) ‘conservationists’ OR ‘preservationists’ because BOTH those concepts are integral and vital parts of the holistic wildlife management philosophy.

Call them what they really are: abolitionists; hypocrits; fraudsters; eco-racketeers; and members of international organised crime. Why should we reduce their stature by calling them anything else!

See diagram.



Ron Thomson

I am NOT a ‘trophy hunter’ - and never have been. I am not involved in the trophy hunting safari business. I am also not a game rancher. But I have ‘administratively controlled’ professional hunters and safari outfitters in my capacity as a government game warden. I am an 80 year old ex-game warden with 60 years of continuous experience in hands-on wildlife management, and national park management, in Africa (1959 to 2019). In breakdown, I have 24 years experience in the management of national parks in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe - and in the management of the wild animal populations that lived inside those national parks; one year as the Chief Nature Conservation of the Ciskei in South Africa; three years as Director of the Bophuthatswana National Parks Board in South Africa; and I worked for three years as a professional hunter in the South African Great Karoo (taking foreign hunters on quests for plains game trophies). I discovered, however, that professional hunting was not my forte. I worked as an investigative wildlife journalist for 30 years in South Africa. I have written fifteen books and hundreds of magazine articles on the subject of wildlife management and big game hunting in Africa. Five of my books are university-level text books on wildlife management. I am a university-trained ecologist; was a member of the Institute of Biology (London) for 20 years; and was a registered chartered biologist for the European Union for 20 years. I have VAST experience in the “management hunting” of elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards and hippos (as part of my official national park work in the control of problem animals); and I pioneered the capture of black rhino in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley (1964 - 1970). My university thesis was entitled: “The Factors Affecting the Survival and Distribution of Black Rhinos in Rhodesia”. Look at my personal website if you want any further details about my experience:

Ron Thomson has 159 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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