KNP’s answer re elephants – Maroela Media

KNP’s reply after having been told in an article by Maroela Media as requested by their readers, that KNP’s current management system caused an over population of elephants resulting in damaging the park’s habitat.

They say there are lots of views floating around re this at present. In the past culling of elephants took place keeping the numbers on 7 000, but at present they are following a more progressive management method resulting in elephant numbers having increased to more than 30 000. This is also partly due to pressure the park got from green activists who regarded culling of elephants as being not acceptable.

Maroela Media earlier also reported that WRSA (Wildlife Ranching SA – Deon Furstenburg / Gerhard Heyneke) asked that KNP to start culling elephants again due to the damage caused to the park’s habitat by the over populated elephant numbers.

According to the park’s management, the current numbers of elephants can not be compared with that of previous years, simply because the area in which the elephants can move around, is much bigger. The park acknowledges that there definitely had been a change in biodiversity as a result of the higher number of elephants, but management don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing.

“Natural systems (ecosystems?), together with the people living in them, are changing already for centuries. When the Sabie-gamereserve were established in 1898, before the KNP came about, there were no elephants and lots of riverrine bushes”, says Dr Sam Ferreira, the KNP’s specialist scientist on large mammals.
He says 300 years ago, before ivory hunters almost killed all elephants, there must have been large numbers of elephants and only a few places with beautiful trees where people stayed and kept the elephants out.
“If your reference  is the tree density of 100 years ago, then it looks as if change or biodiversity is endangered. If your reference is 200 years ago instead, then the change rather looks like a recovery of the ecosystem.”

Danie Pienaar, SANPARK’s chief of conservation services, working in KNP since 1988, say the areas around the park being available and conservation friendly, increased since the 1990’s quite a lot and offers a much larger area where a lot more elephants can be kept.
“The over-border conservation areas stretching deep into Mocambic and Zimbabwe, mostly have no fences and the fences of a lot of private reserves on the park’s Western border have also been dropped.”

Ferreira says elephants react on different areas and climates and can move easier around in large areas than other mammals, should they not like a specific local area.
According to him is Sanpark’s aim not to regulate elephant numbers, but rather manage impacts on a localized scale. “Elephants have in many cases unacceptable results for certain elements of biodiversity on a localized scale, but because they can move around very easily in large numbers, it is difficult and inappropriate to manage these impacts.”

“For example, in 2017 the park had between 21 047 and 23 717 elephants. In 2020 there were between 31 085 and 31 976, but in 2021 there were between 26 401 and 29 584. Movement patterns dominate the change in numbers and not birth and death patterns.”
He reckons there are definite opportunities whereby natural processes that affects elephants, can also take place. In certain areas and cases it may result in population control. ( Can you believe that???)

Ferreira admits that not everybody agrees with their way of management, but all are worried and concerned about what elephants can do to an area.

The solution to this, says Ferreira, is actually not as easy as how many elephants are there and what impact they have on the landscape. “It is rather about more complex mechanisms like the impact the elephants have on a localized scale, how long they stay in a specific area and what do they do there. The scientific approach we follow, tries to manage all these mechanisms.

Ron Thomson – CEO True Green Alliance


  1. A very enlightening reply from KNP. I now understand what has gone wrong with the modern world.
    KNP have a nice, political elephant policy – one that is sure to be very popular with the public, who hate the idea of “hurting an elephant”. Doesn’t everybody?
    Unfortunately, the natural world doesn’t work on the basis of KNP woke policy – KNP’s political policy is the avenue of least resistance (for fear of upsetting the public). This avenue of least resistance used to be called “refusing to take responsibility” aka “incompetence” in the old days when the English Language still had meaning.
    Modern bureaucrats use theories as policies. In the old days, before woke, theories were tested in reality before becoming policies. That took hard work, so it had to go. Why use your backbone when you can use your wishbone and still get paid?
    Today, public relations have replaced factual science and responsible, consequentialist leadership has turned into deontological weasel words and turd-polishing – the fairy-wand idea that if you are very nice to elephants, then everything will turn out fine. It covers the rather expedient tactic of feeding public with political sweeties, knowing full well that you will have retired with a fat pension long before the brown and smelly hits the rotating ventilator and their teeth all fall out. Oh, yes, any all the animals in the park die. When that happens, the next generation will blame it all on global warming anyway.
    KNP knows full well that it misses the point when it chunders on about “theoretical carrying capacity”, “3000”, “2.5 to the sq km” or whatever – and then spoons on the sugar, saying, “there’s more space being available via fence removal and corridors”. Nice words, clever stuff, but the elephants are destroying the damn place because there are too many of them, not because they didn’t get the message.
    Because KNP can’t hide that glaringly bleedin’ obvious fact, they then make up the “Oh, there didn’t used to be any trees, so the KNP is just returning to normal” story.
    I love that idea – when the police catch me stealing a car, I will just say that 100 years ago, there weren’t any cars here, so I am just returning the place to normal. Have you ever heard such evasive, infantile twaddle?
    And don’t mention the baobab trees – according to KNP, “there weren’t any 300 years ago”. Obviously, baobab trees are very sneaky – they only pretend to be thousands of years old. Amazing.
    Crikey Ron, after a lifetime of managing large fauna in the parks, trimming numbers to capacity and translocation for reasons of safety and management, you must have the constitution of a Ox not to have had apoplexy years ago……

  2. * and all the animals in the park….

  3. Neil L Baxter

    It is hard to believe that people who should be well informed and appear to be blind to what is clearly happening before their very eyes , can come up with such drivel . The age distribution of the herds and the trail of smashed trees says it all . The exponential nature of population growth and the fact that Elephants have no major predators can not be ignored . The argument that eventually the lack of food will regulate the population shows a level of ignorance that beggars belief . Whether we like it or not , KNP is an animal farm and every successful farmer knows that the first thing one looks after is the food source of the animals . Ron , you have my deepest sympathies , up against this apparently impregnable wall of ignorance and misguided animal rightists

    • Dear Neil,
      I wish everyone were as clear-thinking as you are. The reason why we made a film of the Kruger Elephant problem was because we have been up against this kind of obstinate blindness for many years. Regrettably, that doesn’t mean these so-called scientists don’t understand what is going on. It means they don’t care! And that fact is frightening.

      Thank you for your support.
      AND Happy Xmas.

    • Dear Neil,

      I wish everyone were as clear-thinking as you are. The reason why we made a film of the Kruger Elephant problem was because we have been up against this kind of obstinate blindness for many years. Regrettably, that doesn’t mean these so-called scientists don’t understand what is going on. It means they don’t care! And that fact is frightening.

      Thank you for your support.


    • Dear Neil,

      Thank you for your clear understand of the elephant over-population problem in Kruger. We have tried explain ourselves in countless ‘blogs’ – published on our webside. BUT…. You can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.
      Kind regards

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