The Minister’s High Level Panel of Experts

As I understand it, the Minister (Mrs Barbara Creecy) established her (so-called) “High Level Panel of Experts” to obtain first-hand information about the management of elephants, rhinos, lions and leopards in South Africa.

This would have been an understandable,  acceptable and welcome development for everybody in the wildlife industry IF these so-called ‘experts’ were people who had really been involved in the Minister’s panel  for the purpose of advising the minister, or if they were capable of advising the Minister, in specific non-scientific wildlife management matters .

I say this because the Minister has clearly no personal knowledge about the management of elephant, rhinos, lions or leopards.  It would have been an understandable, acceptable and welcome development, however, ONLY if the Minister’s HLP advisers had been “true experts” in one or another of the sciences of wildlife management; or if they had been non-scientists but were still ‘experts’ in some other technical or administration aspect of South Africa’s wildlife industry.

As the panel was developed and constructed, however, no qualifying parameters were ever laid down by the minister and she seems to have chosen her own preference personalities as members of her so-called expert team.

This is my first objection to the HLP of “experts”.

Participants were chosen by the minister on her own personal preference whim.  And I personally would declare the construction of the panel to be grossly inexpert and highly unprofessional.

And I believe many of those who were chosen as being “experts” should not have been allowed anywhere near a wildlife management panel of this magnitude and importance.  I am, therefore, left with the notion but to say that the Minister personally hand-picked many of her so-called ‘experts’ for personal and biased reasons of her own.

The final outcome of the operation was that the minister’s hand-picked team of so-called experts came to several consensus conclusions that have determined the final outcome of the  HLP.

And, because this was a scientific forum I have to state the obvious which is, scientific answers cannot be determined by “consensus” because ‘consensus’ has no part to play in any scientific deliberation.

This alone should leave the whole operation in a null and void condition.

The HLP should be declared a “hung jury”. And the operation should – in necessary – be replayed under strict scientific management rules.

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 279 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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