Why Kruger’s Elephants will Cause the Extinction of its Black Rhinos!

(1). Black rhinos are solitary and nocturnal animals. They spend the entire night foraging and they hide away in thick “cover”, where they sleep soundly (8.a.m. to 4.p.m.), every day. Black rhino population density is entirely dependent on the amount of “relative” cover within five kilometres of permanent water during the dry season. “Cover” (for hiding away purposes, not for eating), therefore, is an essential element of black rhino habitats.

(2). To protect their babies from spotted hyenas (which are the biggest killers of black rhinos), mother rhinos secrete their babies in isolated places, and in thick bush, when they go down to the waterholes, every night, to drink. Without adequate cover within two kilometres of water, therefore, not one single black rhino calf will survive its first twelve months of life. Exposed and left alone for about an hour every night, sooner or later, the hyenas will find these very vulnerable calves and kill them.

(3). At the height of the dry season, black rhinos never wander further than about five kilometres from water; and elephants – when their population numbers are not controlled – can, and do, remove all edible plants and all vegetative cover for distances up to 25 kilometres from water.
Ipso facto – by eliminating these vital survival features of black rhino habitats (food and vegetative cover – but especially cover) – Kruger National Park’s “too-many-elephants” will cause the extinction its black rhinos without a single poacher’s bullet being fired!

The only way to stop all this happening is to reduce the number of elephants in Kruger National Park to the level of the game reserve’s natural elephant carrying capacity.



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.

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2 thoughts on “Why Kruger’s Elephants will Cause the Extinction of its Black Rhinos!

  • Has the management plan for Kruger been adapted for short term gain?
    Elephant numbers were controlled – what has happened to that?
    Tourists want to see elephant and lion!?
    What has happened to the Best Conservation managed National park in the world?
    Who are the present policy makers?

    • ALL our national parks SHOULD be being managed – specifically – for the maintenance of their species diversity. Nothing else is more important. That was the mandate handed down to SANParks many years ago by an old South African parliament. It has never been rescinded. By that dictate is no longer in force. “Things” however, “changed along the way”. Our national parks were certainly NOT created for the uncontrolled proliferation of elephants!
      If you want to learn something about the history of the Kruger National Park’s elephant management saga there is a series of 14 continuous blogs covering this subject on the TGA’s website: https://www.mahohboh.org. Look them up!

      Whether tourists want to see elephants and lions is NOT the issue. Sustainable tourism can ONLY be created on top of sustainable ecosystems and when a game reserve is carrying 8 eight times the number of elephants that it should be carrying, the ecosystem is far from being stable. So I am haunted by the vision of castles crumbling!
      Whoever told you that Kruger National Park was ever “the best conservation managed national park in the world?” Look up the above mentioned blog series and make up you own mind on that statement.

      “Who are the present policy makers is a good question?” You might get a surprise when you read these blogs. Surely you have heard the old adage: “Follow the money?”


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