No Point in Rescue of Elephants in Mango Crops Near KNP

The TGA congratulates all those in the team that captured and relocated the three young crop-raiding elephant bulls in Hoedspruit during the last few days. It seems to have been a well-planned and properly executed operation the objective of which was achieved. It is always good for the heart “when a plan comes together”. All those concerned, therefore, are to be congratulated on a job well done. I say this in all honesty because I well-know what goes into executing such an operation.

My concerns, however, are that these three young and naughty “teddy-boys” were returned to a wildlife sanctuary – the Greater Kruger National Park – that few people understand is already carrying grossly excessive elephant numbers; an elephant population that has, in the last 50 years, reduced the national parks top-canopy tree habitats by “more than” 95 percent (Kruger’s own estimate assessment);

  • that has changed the physiognomic character (the physical – and visually obvious – aspect) of the habitats in the park from being a one time healthy woodland to constantly degrading scrub;
  • that few people understand is already carrying grossly excessive elephant numbers; an elephant population that has, in the last 50 years, reduced the national parks top-canopy tree habitats by “more than” 95 percent (Kruger’s own estimate assessment);
  • that has changed the physiognomic character (the physical – and visually obvious – aspect) of the habitats in the park from being a one time healthy woodland to constantly degrading scrub;
  • that has already lost many plant and animal species to local extinction;
  • that has already caused the local extinction of many sensitive habitats and their entire dependent fauna;
  • that threatens the black rhinos of Kruger due to habitat change alone;
  • that threatens the existence of the park’s Martial Eagle and Ground hornbill populations (to name just two of the park’s iconic large birds); and there is still a whole lot more degradation to come.

Kruger National Park was not set aside for the uncontrolled proliferation of elephants.

It was created for the purpose of maintaining the region’s total biological diversity and this is not happening because the park’s “far too many elephants” are destroying everything.

There comes a time in history when society has to grasp the nettle and start practising “tough love” and “hard talk” if it is to protect the nation’s wildlife heritage; and that time has come.

If SANParks does not start reducing the elephant population in Kruger – SOON – and DRASTICALLY – there will be nothing of consequence left to protect.

As things stand at this time, it is going to be very difficult for man-and-nature (working together) to help the habitats to recover their former glory – which must be our first priority because without healthy habitats wild animals will not survive.

There is no point, therefore, in putting the cart before the horse…. trying to save the elephants of Kruger one by one (which don’t need “saving” anyway) without us addressing ourselves to the far greater problem of protecting the park’s soils and restoring its habitats.

Elephants should be amongst the last of the park’s living organisms to appear on our Conservation Priority list.

The “saving” of the three young crop-raiding elephants at Hoedspruit, therefore – in my opinion – was not the right option.

In the interests of the Greater Kruger National Park’s primary management objective – to perpetuate the park’s biological diversity into posterity – all three of these elephants should have been shot.

This “straight off the shoulder” report is submitted in an effort to get our society to start “thinking” about our wildlife management options is a responsible and intelligent manner. Letting our emotions determine our actions in NOT the way to save Africa’s wildlife from ultimate extinction.

Original article

Image Credit: Traveller24 Harriet Nimmo

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 170 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

4 thoughts on “No Point in Rescue of Elephants in Mango Crops Near KNP

  • September 15, 2017 at 6:45 am
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    As far as I know these elephants were from a private game reserve and not the KNP!

    Reply
    • September 15, 2017 at 10:43 am
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      You are right – in a way? As the report mentioned, these elephants came from APNR (Association of Private Nature Reserves) A very large block of privately own nature reserves which is attached to Kruger National Park without any kind of separation with game fences. The elephants of the APNR are, therefore, part of the Greater Kruger National Park elephant population. And because of the far greater abundance of private bore-holed water supplies in the APNR, the elephant population density in the APNR is extremely high – probably moreso than in the KNP itself – and the habitat damage is just as bad as that of the KNP itself. So my argument still stands. It is still valid. The best option was still that those three elephants should have been shot.
      You cannot “manage elephants with sentiment” – or – “to satisfy the irrational and emotional animal rights objections to killing elephants”. And this is something that the public has to be reminded about, persistently, because the animal rightists idea – that you can manage elephants by way of emotional petitions and/or public referendums – just does not work. Those of us who understand this must help to wean the public from this emotional tripe if we want to save our wildlife and national parks into posterity. Quick witted and responsible people in society know this – or they will work it out themselves with some intelligent thinking. But there are many other people in the public domain – those who have demonstrated that to have intelligent opinions of their own is beyond their mental capacities – and who just love to be led by the nose by the animal rightists. Such people are like iron filings when subjected to a magnetic field. They all obey the emotional magnetism of the animal rights doctrine and they are easily steered away from applying their own common sense. Such people are beyond the pale! We need to encourage the responsible members of our society to use their “common sense” in all such matters because THAT – to use their common sense – is the real “science” that matters.

      Reply
  • April 12, 2018 at 5:13 pm
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    There are area of the APNR that have lost up to 60% of their Marula trees and even more Knob Thorn in the past 14 years and as you said the artificial water holes have a big role to play in the Elephant movement in the APNR

    Reply
    • September 9, 2019 at 1:25 pm
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      GOOD TO HAVE TOIUR SUPPORT. Ron

      Reply

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