Truths That the Skeptics Need to be Told – Climate Change & Recent Elephant Deaths

On the subject of Climate Change

On the 7th November 2019, an article that ventured into the realms of man-made-climatechange appeared on the TGA’s social media network.  It expressed views that are not held by the TGA’s directorate; and that fact has forced me to, here, publish a rebuttal.

It is the TGA’s belief – a belief that is shared by many eminent scientists the world-over – that the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – has NOT provided undeniable proof that global warming can be attributed to excessive carbon-dioxide emissions from man’s ever-growing industrial practices.  Amongst those not accepting the argument for man-made-climate-change are the Professors of Climate Change at M.I.T.(USA) and Princeton (USA).  Twenty-four other muchrespected senior scientists in eight leading First World countries (including the UK, Europe and the USA) seriously question the accuracy of the IPCC climate change projections. Thirty respected scientists, from eleven leading First World countries, argue that global warming is primarily caused by natural processes.  And so, the lists and the counter-arguments go on and on.  Indeed, there is just as much evidence to suggest that man is NOT responsible for climate change as there are arguments that say he is responsible for it.  

The TGA is cognizant of the fact that during the medieval period (900 to 1300 AD) there was a prolonged climate warming phenomenon in Europe that raised temperatures in excess of those being experienced today; and, in those days, there were no internal combustion engines saturating the atmosphere with carbon dioxide.  Indeed, during that period, mankind was yet to learn about even the existence of fossil fuels.  

The TGA despite our serious inclination to state our total doubts about the veracity of the man-made-global warming theory and following the example of many eminent scientists from all over the world – therefore, state our preparedness to change our minds; but that will happen ONLY if-or-when the scientific evidence in support of this issue is proved beyond any doubt. What we are NOT prepared to do is to blame environmental and/or wildlife management catastrophes on climate-change (as the article under review did) when the causes are clearly perfectly natural phenomena orsimply the consequence of bad wildlife management decisions made by man.

On recent elephant deaths in Zimbabwe and Botswana

That same article recommended that “the way forward”in our drive to “to wrench-away conservation leadership from the animal rights groupsis to “form alliances with those actively involved in opposing environmental degradation through climate change.”  “Until now, the article went on to say, “the threat to wildlife from climate change has yet to be identified as a major risk to conservation efforts in Africa.  Yet the ravages of climate change have the potential to destroy wildlife far more completely than poachers.

The article quotes the recent loss of 55 elephants in Zimbabwe to drought (allegedly caused by climate change).  And Botswana, the article says, has lost 100 elephants during the same period for the same reasons (climate change).   These ‘appalling numbers’ are far worse than anything any poaching gangs have ever inflicted during the same period of time so the article asserted.

My response to this statement:- What of the 57 000 elephants killed by so-called poachers’ in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve during the 4 year period 2008 to 2012 (an average of 39 elephants per day, every day, for 1 460 days)?  What of the estimated 250 000 elephants (and 10 000 black rhinos) that were killed by so-called ‘poachers’ in Kenya (1970 – 1989) (35 elephants per day, every day, for 7 300 days)?   And there are a lot more numbers that can be added to these kinds of figures.  By comparison, the 55 and 100 elephants that died in two southern African states over a period of 3 months (and erroneously ascribed to climate change), is chicken feed.  They actually died of starvation – plain and simple! Southern Africa has too many elephants!

Climate change also had nothing to do with the 15000 elephants, and 5000 black rhinos that died during the single dry season of 1972 in Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park.  These animals all succumbed to starvation because the Tsavo East National Park, in 1972, was carrying – and had been carrying for far too long – a grossly excessive number of elephants.  The elephants had literally eaten themselves out of house and home; they completely demolished Tsavo’s Commiphora woodland complex; and they caused the gerenuk antelope to become locally extinct.   And in 1972 nobody had even heard of the phenomenon called climate change!

NB: What mankind has learnt from history is that we do not learn from history; nor have governments ever acted on the principles that they should have deduced from it. Unfortunately, those who cannot remember our past wildlife management mistakes – or those who know nothing about them – are condemned to repeat them.

The die-off of elephants and black rhinos in Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park in 1972 – and what caused it – is a lesson that we will forget in southern Africa, today, at our peril.  Why? Because the over-population-of-elephants-syndrome that set the Tsavo East elephant and rhino die-off catastrophe in motion, is being repeated all over southern Africa as I write these words.  

Climate change also had nothing to do with the elephant population crash that occurred in 1992 in Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park.  

I don’t have the exact figures but I have an understanding of the drift of the elephant population dynamics in the Gonarezhou.   My guesstimate is that the Gonarezhou (a 5 000 square kilometer game reserve) was carrying some 5000 elephants (five times above the game reserve’s elephant carrying capacity) in 1992.  After the horrific elephant population crash that year, the numbers had probably been reduced to less than 2000. And in 1992 nobody had heard of climate change!

Like the elephants and the rhinos of Tsavo, the Gonarezhou elephants in 1992 died of starvation. Indeed, the elephants that have died in Zimbabwe and Botswana in recent months all died of starvation.  And the perhaps many more elephants that will probably die in Zimbabwe’s several game reserves and in Botswana maybe even in South Africa’s Kruger National Park – over the next month or so – will also die of starvation.  

These are all man-made deaths.  Man is responsible.  It is man’s responsibility to maintain the nation’s elephant herds within the sustainable carrying capacity of their habitats and that is not happening.  

Man – the wildlife manager in southern Africa – is NOT doing his job!  It is not happening because southern Africa’s governments are afraid to cull their elephant herds for fear of upsetting the international animal rights organisations.

TRUE?   Or are our government officials surreptitiously being paid to support the no-culling demands of these corrupt and pernicious NGOs?  That is a possibility!  Some will say even a probability!

So let’s get real, people. Let’s get real, you southern African journalists.  Let’s get real you American ivory artifact experts.  Make sure of your facts before you speak or write anything.  Let’s not start a plethora of new myths that cannot be substantiated.  Myths are fabrications that have to be dismantled before the truth can be told.  And we don’t have time to waste undoing deceptions that should never have been said, done, or tied up in knots in the first place.  

From this day forth, now that the animal rightist NGOs have (another) excuse – a new fabrication made by people who purport to be expert wildlife managers – that climate change is responsible for elephants dying in large numbers – they will oppose what really needs to be done.  They will oppose the introduction of elephant population reduction management – which is vital if we are to save our national parks from becoming deserts.  And THAT would be a tragedy!

The truth, after all, is very simple!  Southern Africa is carrying far too many elephants.  The scientific solution is equally simple: reduce the elephant numbers to a level that their habitats can sustainably carry. And those who don’t have the stomach to support the management action that that solution will entail have no right to be part of the elephant management debate.

Ron Thomson CEO – TRUE GREEN ALLIANCE

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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 159 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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