One of the Realities Why Elephant Numbers Must be Controlled


As a consequence of all this past MIS-management, the elephants of Botswana have grown in number every year for the last 60 years. And during the height of every dry season – August/ September/October/early-November – they have annually eaten out all edible grass and palatable woody plants within 25 kms of the dry season waterholes. 
And I mean they have eaten the edible vegetation FLAT – into extinction. Huge numbers of large top-canopy trees have been wiped out (including whole groves of ancient baobab trees – some over 5000 years old); many favourite-food tree species have been eaten into extinction; and entire ecosystems (for example, riverine forests; and deciduous Acacia/Combretum woodlands) have completely disappeared – leaving behind exposed Kalahari sand-soil and little else. 
And, in the teak forests (which elephants don’t fancy eating) they have demolished the understory plant communities in their entirety.
Under these conditions, as the dry season advances every year, the elephants find it harder and harder to find enough food to stay alive; and as each dry season month passes, they get thinner and thinner. 
Lactating mothers are the worst affected. And as their milk dries up so their baby calves (which are dependent on mother’s milk for survival during their first three years of life) are abandoned. 
They are abandoned because, without their mother’s milk, the babies do not have the energy to walk the (x2) 25 km journey, with their mothers – from the water, to the herd’s food supply, and back to the water again – each day. 
These baby elephants die of starvation, of thirst and/or of heat fatigue; or in the absence of their mothers, they killed and eaten by lions and hyenas.
Ron Thomson
Extract from “About The Culling Of Elephants In Botswana”

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 195 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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