The Concept “Endangered Species” is Invalid

The True Green Alliance’s view on the Endangered Species Day – May 19th, 2017.

Animals don’t organise themselves at the “species level” but at the “population level”; and the management of a species can ONLY be effected at the population level – and ONLY population by population.  The respective environmental “pressures” that are exerted on each and every elephant population in Africa, for example, are unique to each population; and management applications for each of those populations are (or should be) designed around, and applied to, each population separately according to the nature of their respective environmental “pressures”.

When an animal species is classified as being “endangered” the whole world presumes that its every population is “unsafe” – but that is not true.  Africa’s bush elephant (Loxodonta Africana), for example, occurs in 37 range-state countries and its 150 different populations are either:

(1) “UNSAFE” (declining and facing possible extirpation because the ’causes’ of the declines cannot be reversed);

(2) “SAFE” (they occur in good numbers, are stable or expanding, and in numbers that their habitats can sustainably support); or

(3) “EXCESSIVE” (they occur in numbers that their habitats CANNOT sustainably support; their habitats are, therefore, being ever more greatly trashed every day; and, as a consequence, the biological diversities of their sanctuaries are in free-fall decline).  Excessive elephant populations (in my estimation) should be immediately reduced in number by, at least, 50 percent.

When CITES declared the African elephant to be an “endangered species” in 1989 – due entirely to unsupportable propaganda pressure from the convention’s mass of accredited animal rights NGOs – it demanded that ALL elephant populations be afforded total preservation management (protection from all harm); and the essential culling of safe and excessive  populations in southern Africa stopped.  What this declaration actually did, therefore, was to force MIS-management on the continent’s MANY safe and excessive elephant populations.  In other words, it had a negative effect on the very species CITES purported to want to ‘save’.

A common sense appreciation of the concept “endangered species”, therefore, is that it is invalid.  It is fallacious.  But it is more than that!  It is downright dangerous for wildlife. 

The labelling of a species as “endangered” creates false impressions and unattainable expectations amongst the general public (and governments; and seemingly also amongst the world’s leading “conservation” agencies) to the detriment of the species concerned.

If the ‘endangered species’ label causes the MIS-management of safe and excessive populations; if it interferes with the application of appropriate management measures in the field; and if it forces on African governments unnecessary and unjust impositions (such as the banning of imports into the U.S. of legitimate elephant trophies procured in Zimbabwe), then it is a concept that should not be praised but maligned – and it should be discarded from the vocabularies of all honest wildlife ‘conservation’ agencies everywhere.

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 161 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

2 thoughts on “The Concept “Endangered Species” is Invalid

  • May 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm
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    very interesting topic in my view.
    I am not a trained person in topics and issues like endangered species; I ha a post grad diploma in engineering where amongst other concepts i have learned the concept of systemic approach and entropy.
    In my view i believe that the total summation of different pocket of populations might render the overall population as endangered ; this is how i personally view it ; meaning like for instance the wild lion population in africa eg exctint in some areas of west africa ; abundant in tanzania and botswana ? so the total summation ( greek capital letter sigma?) will have some zeros , and other numbers from all different areas of the lions natural ranges or habitats ; so if one compares those sigmas over the decades i believe that in total they are on a downward trend ; that is for me a gross yet more simplistic explanation of endangered species eg wild lion in africa .
    Now the concept of entropy will bring about the concept of systemic population ie the whole is greater than the sum of the parts ; so any sistemic “system” if left unattended will migrate from the states of control to threshold to brink of chaos to chaos ; in my view and example with the wild lion population unless there is an external influence or intervention at the state threshold the inevitable consequence caused by entropy will be the states of brink of chaos and then chaos which I would equate with endangered to exctint ?…. just some concepts as seen by myself.
    In other words I would still use the word endangered in such a scenario .
    Thanks for such interesting and education topics!

    Reply
    • May 26, 2017 at 4:48 pm
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      Joao, you miss the point. Wildlife is “managed” – and can ONLY be managed – population by population. The “endangered species” concept is applied to ALL populations of the same (prescribed) species and, when that happens, it effectively declares them ALL to be “unsafe”. This is FAR from the truth with most species – like elephants; rhinos and lions – which all have many populations that are quite “safe”. Nevertheless, the endangered species concept prescribes that they are ALL “UNSAFE” and therefore they are ALL deserving of TOTAL PROTECTION. This being the case, the “endangered species” concept enforces “preservation management” on populations that urgently need to be “reduced in number” (by culling) for their own good. So what the “endangered species” concept forces on certain identified species is often GROSS MIS-management – and that is contrary to “Best Practice” wildlife management.

      Hope this explains my point of view more clearly?

      Reply

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