Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

“Who will guard the guardians?”

THE MINISTER OF FORESTRY, FISHERIES AND ENVIRONMENT, Mrs Barbara Creecy, recently shocked South Africa’s wildlife management aficionados when she published her draft report on the deliberations of her hand-picked High Level Panel of (related to wildlife management) Experts. Many of whom were far from being experts.

In a nutshell, if the minister’s recommendations are implemented, it will destroy South Africa’s wildlife industry overnight. And her report does not recognise the hard work and massive expenditure of life-savings and time, that our game ranchers, hunters and other nature-loving enthusiasts, used to bring the industry to its current state of uniqueness and excellence.

A number of properly informed, honest and loyal South Africans are now picking up the pieces. They are determined to reverse all the terrible decisions that this minister has made, and is still intent on making.

Mrs Creecy has been described as being a ‘cadre-minister’. This is defined as a politician who has been a loyal and hard-working member of ‘the party’ all her political life. It is said, that her appointment to head the Department of the Environment, is a reward for her service and her loyalty.

When one looks at this state of affairs with an open mind, one has to ask: How can a minister of health not have some kind of experience in medicine? How can a minister of defence not have some kind of military background? And how can our minister of the environment, who is charged with properly managing our wildlife management affairs, have no knowledge about what makes the world of wildlife management go round? Yet despite her lack of competency in this field, she has the power to change government wildlife policy, to change the wildlife laws, and to destroy our entire wildlife industry… all at the behest of the local and international animal rights extremists?

At this juncture it is necessary to point out that our wildlife industry functions superbly well because it is administered by some very experienced, passionate, and rural-orientated nature-loving people who know what they are doing. It functions also, because our national constitution enables and promotes the sustainable use of our wild living resources for the benefit of South Africa’s people. This policy is what minister Creecy is supposed to service, to enhance and to oversee. But she doesn’t!

The practice of sustainable-use is strongly opposed by many international urban people who live in the big cities of the Western World. They don’t understand Africa, many have never been here, and they are completely out of touch with nature. These people are the died-in-the-wool animal rights extremists.

Nothing they propose is based on science, only on emotion, and their stated objective is to abolish all animal uses by man. This includes opposing the keeping of companion pets at home and the norms-and-standards of domestic live-stock farming, for the production of meat for man to eat, in agriculture.

The conflict between these two ideologies is huge and the animal rights extremists use this conflict to annually raise millions of US dollars, from gullible people in the First World, to keep themselves in fat cat employment.

It is difficult to understand, therefore, why practically all the important decisions in the minister’s draft report, accept the emotional animal rightist point of view. And they reject the science-based wildlife management principles and practices that are followed by many wise people, in her own wildlife industry.

Although the minister may well deserve loyalty accolades from the ANC for her service to the party, she deserves nothing of that kind from the people in our wildlife industry. Quite the opposite! It is generally accepted in wildlife management circles, right across the board in South Africa, that she was greatly misplaced in her appointment. And that she should be replaced with immediate effect.

Reading through the minister’s draft report, it is very clear that Minister Creecy has disregarded (or didn’t know) that the science of wildlife management is based on FACT (the truth).

Wildlife management is the responsible action that man takes to achieve a rational science-based and man-desired objective. It is not something that is conditional upon international urban people’s emotions, or on the public’s opposition to certain wildlife management practices. And non-consumptive tourism is not an alternative to hands-on wildlife management as the ignorant anti-wildlife management extremists constantly tell society. Nor has it anything to do with their biased personal preference prejudices. The minister’s judgments should also never take into account the disinformation contained in the extremists’ fraudulent propaganda. Yet that is exactly what she has done.

The minister has clearly been strongly influenced by the extremists’ propaganda. Furthermore, she remains determined to change right around for the worse, this country’s long term wildlife management programmes, in order to satisfy the foreign extremist’s self-centred demands. Now, South Africans are going to have to properly assess the fallout that has come about from this irresponsible political escapade and to find ways and means to rectify what our minister has done wrong.

First, the minister’s draft report needs to be scrapped!

Throughout the HLP process the minister regularly declared that her HLP decisions would be based upon the way that her ‘constituents’ wanted her to vote – without her ever once mentioning the concept of ‘scientific fact’ (the truth); and without her once indicating who she considered her ‘constituents’ to be.

The minister’s constituents are, in fact, the people who make up the wildlife industry. Indeed, it was to serve them, and to make the wildlife industry better, that she was awarded the environment portfolio. But she clearly does not agree with that!

This whole debacle has ended up being what Mrs Creecy seems to believe was her subjective right to arbitrarily determine the rights and the wrongs of everything that was discussed in her HLP debates during which she always held the reins. This includes the degree of acceptability of the many ideologically untested, untrue and highly vociferous public opinions that flowed out from the HLP swamp.

Simply put, she based her final decisions, for her draft report, on what she believed was an acceptable consensus of public opinion. In other words, what she concluded was, in her opinion, the best outcome. No other option was acceptable! She believed she knew best!

She operated, therefore, as a one-man band. The creation of the HLP was nothing more than window dressing!

Mrs Creecy clearly does not understand that it is not possible to solve science-based problems on the basis of what amounts to a public referendum!
All things considered, she has absolutely sided with the extremists, thus placing this country’s wildlife resources in jeopardy. It also places the livelihoods of many South Africans, black, white and brown, at great risk. It eliminates the possibility of South Africa entering the legal trade in rhino horn, and to a lesser extent in ivory, and in the controversial (but legal and very lucrative) lion-bone-trade.

It also removes any possibility that this country will retain its place as the international leader of our innovative, science-based, and sustainable-use wildlife management industry. Furthermore, the sustainable-use of wildlife for the benefit of mankind, is, arguably, the only possible way that man and nature can proceed into posterity, together, in symbiotic harmony.

But, standing in our way, is Minister Barbara Creecy!
This brings us to the famous quote from the distant annals of human history: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – Who will guard the guardians?

This phrase has been used for millennia to consider the embodiment of the philosophical question as to how people in power can be held accountable. It is used by modern authors to express Socrates’s (469 – 399 BC) concerns about ‘the guardians’, the solution to which, Socrates said, is to properly train their souls. In Plato’s Republic, a putatively perfect society is described by Socrates. In it, he proposed a guardian class to protect that society, and to protect the “custodes” (the watchmen), too.

Socrates’s answer to the problem (about who will guard the guardians) is, in essence, that the guardians will be manipulated to guard themselves against themselves, via a deception and often-called, “Noble Lie”.“It is absurd, in fact, to think that a guardian should need a guard.” But, if Mrs Creecy is anything to go by, they clearly do.

The issue of the accountability of political power also traces back to different passages of the Old and the New Testaments. It received great attention in medieval and early modern Christian thought, especially in connection with the exercise of authority in the Church and in church-state relations. In the Protestant tradition it also animated the debate about who was to be final arbiter in the interpretation of the Scriptures.

In his 2013 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, the UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, elucidated the fact that: “Crucial remains the conviction that government should serve the people and that its power should be circumscribed by a Constitution and the rule of law.”

“Who Guards the Guardians”, therefore, he says, remains a central concern of democracy, since the people must always watch over the constitutional behaviour of the leaders and impeach them if they act in contravention of their duties. Constitutional courts must fulfil this need and civil society should show solidarity with human rights defenders and whistleblowers who, far from being unpatriotic, perform a democratic service to their countries and the world.”

This leaves us to contend with an apparently rogue minister who is determined to destroy South Africa’s sustainable wildlife resource-use initiatives.
How does one do that? We will find out soon enough. One day in the not too distant future, the cookie will start to crumble.

South Africa’s wildlife industry, and society’s general political predicament, therefore, is now faced with yet another unconscionable state of affairs. If we are going to make it go away, however, more and more people are going to have stand up to the plate and make it happen. We must understand one unequivocal fact, however, and that is, if we do nothing, nothing will change. Our problem will never go away! And then we will only have ourselves to blame.

So, let us gird our loins and get ready to do battle!

Ron Thomson CEO – TRUE GREEN ALLIANCE

25 August 2021!
Research: I obtained my historical information from multiple places on the internet. What has been said in this report, therefore, is common knowledge world-wide.

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: www.ronthomsonshuntingbooks.co.za.

Ron Thomson has 246 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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