Ron Thomson responds to a comment made by Grant on You Tube where you will find the documentary Ndhlovu
This is a very interesting film and it’s doubtless correct in its observations on the current state of the park. However, it might be argued that the ecosystem should be left to itself. Eventually, the elephants will die when their food sources are depleted, which will of course be a very gruesome spectacle, but nonetheless a completely natural one. The massive die-off of elephants will allow the ecosystem to recover, and gradually the elephant population will rise over decades, causing the same habitat degradation and elephant population crash. This is very normal in animal population dynamics, most easily recognised in the ratio between predators and their prey, which follows a cyclic increase in one with a corresponding decrease in the other, until the predator population crashes due to the population crash of their prey; the cycle begins again.
There are however very few natural ecosystems left in the world: Kruger Park was (perhaps still is) one of the most intensely managed ecosystems on Earth – there is virtually nothing left of the original ecosystems in place when the park was created. So, perhaps it’s just best to let nature take its course…
Hello Grant. I have multitude of questions and observations for you, starting with the observation that this film is NOT “Just Doubtlessly Correct”, it is “Absolutely Correct”.
(1) In 1926, when Kruger National Park was handed on a plate to the South African National Parks Board (now SANParks) to “manage” the Board was handed a parliamentary mandate (an instruction)– which was : ”to maintain species diversity at all costs”.
Now, IF what became SANParks had worked on this objective it would have retained all the park’s species of plants and all its species of animals (including reptiles, insects and bacteria-in- the soil) up to the present day. But it elected not bother too much about HOW it managed the biological components of the park so long as TOURISM thrived. As a consequence, the Park’s ecosystems crashed and with that catastrophe the very foundation of the parks wildlife spectrum, including the foundations of its tourism, are all falling down around our feet.
Once a major herbivore – like the elephant gets out of hand – everything else falls down like a pack of cards.
And THAT has happened in Kruger National Park today. Because SANParks did not bother to determine the true elephant carrying capacity of the national park’s habitats, the elephants are in the process of systematically destroying the park’s many critically important ecosystems. Since 1960, for example, the park’s top canopy trees have been reduced in number by “MORE THAN” 95 percent. That means the numbers of big trees that Martial Eagles, Tawny Eagle, Snake Eagles, Fish Eagles, Bateleurs – and Ground Hornbills – were wont to breed in, in 1926, have been almost eliminated to nothing. And when all these big trees are gone, the big eagles that depend on them for breeding sites will never come back again- EVER – because, if the can’t breed, these species will become extinct. Kruger represents the last stronghold for these species in South Africa. So when you claim that “nature should be left to her own devices’ – whereafter you believe everything will eventually return to a normal natural equilibrium – you do not understand how wrong you are. Just think about it!
When a species – like the giant baobab tree disappears – it will be gone forever. When the big eagles are gone, they are gone forever,
(2) When you say that Kruger National Park is “ONE OF THE MOST INTENSELY MANAGED ECOSYSTEMS ON EARTH” you are clearly wrong. It is one of the worst-management national parks in the world. How can I say that about our beautiful and beloved Kruger National Park? EASY! I can say it because it is on the point of total collapse into becoming a desert: I say it easily because there are umpteen species of plants and animals on the verge of extinction – brought about by very poor wildlife management; And I say this because I do not want Kruger sink into the mire of history as a once beautiful wildlife heritage that is being destroyed by the mismanagement of the game reserve by the very custodians who were appointed to protect it.
(3) You must understand that man is the ultimate APEX PREDATOR everywhere in the world. Man with his knowledge about ecosystem management is the once ‘thing’ on this earth that can save game reserves like Kruger from the iniquities of mankind. When you take man out of nature’s equations you remove a critically important cog in the wheels of natural processes.
(4) Your understanding of the way that nature works is simplistic in the extreme. Your understanding of the way that man works in natural systems is, seemingly, non est! It is because there are lots of people like you around that our wildlife resources are in the state they are in all over Africa.