Reply to Peter Mills’ Ndhlovu Elephant Controversy Comment

Dear Peter,

I have this morning  responded to you directly and civilly – which has been your desire.  I hope that what I have said in my today’s email to you will eventually make sense to you. It is the only approach that any responsible wildlife manager should and can entertain.

If you know there are too many elephants in Kruger (as you say you do) then I don’t understand your “case”. If there are too many elephants in Kruger (as there are; and which you admit) the only thing you can do is to reduce their numbers to a level that their habitats can support. That means carrying out what is called a “population reduction exercise” (which is NOT “culling”; it is heavier than “culling”; it is humane slaughter). If the elephant counts I have been given are correct (34 500) – and I believe there are more than 34 500 – and if my calculated elephant carrying capacity  is correct (which it is) then the wildlife managers must reduce the population to the carrying capacity level (which is 3500) – although it is probable that the carrying capacity since 1960 MUST have been considerably reduced by now (due to the continuous destruction of the elephants’ habitat).

You imply that the Kruger scientists have carried out “research”. Tell me: What “research” have they done to determine the elephant carrying capacity of Kruger National Park? I will tell you what research they have done in that direction: NONE!

The currency of ‘conservation’ is NOT ‘statistics’.  It is “management” carried out according to scientific objectives and principles. And the ONLY objective (and principle) we need consider in Kruger National Park is “MAINTAINING THE PARK’s BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY”. And the only way that ANYBODY is going to return Kruger to its former biological diversity is to restore the Kruger Habitats to their former state; and the only way to restore the Kruger habitats TO THEIR FORMER STATE is to reduce the park’s elephant population to its sustainable elephant carrying capacity level.




Ron Thomson. CEO TGA

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 280 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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