Africa’s final battle to save its wildlife and its national parks

Molewa steers South Africa’s Conservation, not Foreign Activists.

There are two kinds of people trying to dominate the world of living resources today:

(1) Those that understand and believe in the sustainable harvest of living resources (plants and animals) for the benefit of mankind; and

(2) Those who don’t. We might call them, respectively, pragmatists and utopians; and their opinions are poles apart. A pragmatist is guided more by practical considerations than by ideals. A utopian lives in a fool’s paradise where he believes everything can and should be perfect.

Don Pinnock, on 21st February 2017, published an article in the Daily Maverick newspaper entitled “South Africa opens the door to the sale of wildlife parts” – which subject he denounced in the most scathing of terms – identifying himself, by implication, as a utopian and animal rightist.

What is an animal rightist? He, or she, is a person whose purpose in life is to abolish all animal “uses” by man – even to the extent that people should not be allowed to own a pet dog; or a cat. Animal rightists disapprove of mankind farming cattle, sheep or goats, or pigs and chickens; and riding horses. They believe it is immoral for man to kill any kind of animal to obtain meat to eat. They believe the eating of animal flesh by man is abhorrent and uncivilised; that meat consumption by man should be outlawed; and that mankind should exist on a wholly vegetarian diet.

What did Pinnock say that so offended me? He claimed that our minister, Mrs Edna Molewa – by introducing legal and sustainable-use options for the farming of rhinos and the marketing of their horns; by defining the much needed legal norms and standards for the sustainable hunting of leopards; and by allowing the export of legally procured lion bones – was ignoring the findings of what he calls “environmental organisations”; her contractual compliance with CITES; a worldwide online petition; and that she was, therefore, doing something that is illegal and obnoxious in the extreme. Adding other insults to her list of crimes, he insinuated that everything associated with sustainable use of wild animals was being done solely “for money”.

The “environmental organisations” to which Pinnock referred, represent what I call “the animal rights brigade”. They are the last kind of people that should advise this country – any country – on wildlife management affairs. They are unwelcome vendors – akin to those so-called visionaries who are determined to wander through synagogues trying to persuade the Jewish people to become Christians; and provocatively demanding that they should learn to eat pork chops. So the real wildlife aficionados in South Africa are not in the least bit interested in hearing what Pinnock’s so-called “environmental organisations” – the most extreme and irrational of all utopian organisations – have to say.


How it all Started.

In 1980, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (the IUCN) published its World Conservation Strategy (WCS) which outlined the IUCN’s vision and its mission. This protocol was, in fact, the IUCN’s principle “conservation” policy. The WCS very clearly states that if man and nature are to survive together on this earth, they will have to learn to live in symbiotic harmony; and that this can only be achieved if man learns and practices the art of sustainably harvesting the earth’s living resources. It does NOT say that man should NOT harvest the earth’s living resources. It says that he should harvest the plants and the animals of the planet in a sustainable manner. And it does not differentiate between wild and domestic animals; or between wild and cultivated plants.

In 1980, the nations of the world declared the WCS to be the “blueprint” that would take both mankind and nature, safely and together, into posterity. And all those responsible nations that were members of the IUCN in 1980 obligated themselves to model their national conservation strategies (NCSs) on the WCS template. South Africa was one of them. Hence all the provisions of the WCS are now ensconced within South Africa’s National Conservation Strategy (NCS) – as are they contained in the NCSs of every other responsible state. And these provisions are now written into the laws of all these countries – which is how the WCS obtained its legal teeth.

How the world has changed since 1980! Beware – because of the growing influence of animal rights propaganda – anarchy looms right across the world!

NB: Pinnock’s “environmental organisations” repudiate the WCS! So their opinions are valueless! And wildlife management decisions should never be made by public referendum – so the very idea of Mr. Pinnock’s much lauded world-wide online petition in unacceptable; and CITES is rapidly achieving the reputation of becoming a totally corrupt organisation that does more harm to Africa’s wildlife, than good! Hopefully the minister’s recent bold initiative, therefore, is an  indication that maybe – just maybe – she is starting to allow South Africans to get the feel of paddling their own canoes again. THAT would be a good step into a whole new world!

So, if the minister’s actions were all in line with these long accepted United Nations (and South African) protocols, why does Pinnock believe he has the right to castigate her? He doesn’t have that right, of course, but he did rebuke her. And he did so because he believes that, as an animal rightist, he is right and everybody else is wrong. Animal rightists believe they have the right – without rational reason – to reject, out of hand, the proven principles and practices of science-based wildlife management! Society should take note!

NB: Mr Pinnock is a journalist and photographer, and a former editor of a tourism magazine.       His career specialities are listed as: electronic engineer; lecturer in journalism and criminology; consultant to the Mandela government (but his CV does not say about what); a professional yachtsman; explorer; travel writer; photographer; and cable-car operator on the Rock of Gibraltar. His present passion, apparently, is studying the impact of humans on planetary processes – whatever that means?

What in all this salmagundi of his life’s fortunes and accidents qualifies him to be an expert in any kind of wildlife matter? Nothing! Undaunted, however, he frequently pontificates on environmental issues that lament (what he sees to be) South Africa’s wildlife management woes – intimating that nobody else can solve these problems but himself and his animal rightist friends.

Nobody is always right! Everybody is sometimes wrong! But, in this case, the minister has done her homework. She did everything right when she proposed to pass legislation on:

(1) the domestic sale of rhino horn;

(2) the norms and standards of leopard hunting; and

(3) on granting export permits for lion bones.

All the legal requirements are in place. The wildlife management principles that she has used to guide her are correct. If I have any criticism, it is that she did not go far enough with regard to opening up still further the rhino horn trade and to make it international. South Africa – and her rhinos – needs an open international market for our rhino products. It is the only and obvious way forward! It is the only way to save South Africa’s rhinos!

Nevertheless, the minister’s economic considerations have been sound.   No laws have been broken. The principles supporting her decisions are in line with the provisions of the WCS and South Africa’s own NCS. And the proposed new legislation is in line with South Africa’s domestic wildlife laws.

So what is Mr Pinnock’s case? He disagrees with everything that Mrs Molewa has proposed? Why am I not surprised? He is behaving in the manner that all animal rightists behave. They constantly make controversial statements – convincing statements to the uninitiated – without any kind of corroborating evidence. And people like Pinnock well know that if they repeat their lies often enough, the gullible public will come to accept them as being the truth. So let me warn society at large. If you read and believe any of the wildlife stories that Mr Pinnock tells you, examine his words and his motives very carefully. If you don’t, you will most certainly be led astray.

Getting back to Pinnock’s “environmental organisations” on whose findings he seems prepared to stake his life! He doesn’t say who they are or what they actually said; and he purposefully doesn’t name them. Nevertheless, he makes them out to be a group of goody-goody NGOs whose opinions and dictates are (in his opinion) never wrong. I have read several of Mr Pinnock’s articles in the Daily Maverick and, through them I have noticed the company that he keeps. All his friends are leading South African animal rightists. They are people whose purpose in life is to abolish all animal uses by man. Not one of them would approve the creation of sustainable rhino horn sales; or the sustainable hunting of leopards; or the selling of lion bones. So why does Pinnock believe that anybody should listen to their opinions? And note: he very carefully avoids telling us what those opinions are. He merely insinuates that theirs are the “right” opinions – and that the opinions of everybody else are wrong.

Now consider this: If you are a government minister convening a meeting to discuss the abuse of women and children, why on earth would you consider inviting the attendance of serial rapists and paedophiles to the meeting? Assuming you are a reasonably intelligent and responsible person, you would never do that. And if one or two of these nefarious people somehow managed to slip in through the door, what kind of meaningful and constructive contributions do you think they would be able to make to such a debate?

Serial rapists and paedophiles are the exact wrong kind of people that you would want to let loose in such a conference. And if you were the minister convening that meeting, you wouldn’t have to look very far to find the excuse you needed (the reason) to deny them access.

Why then does everybody believe that you cannot, and should not, deny the access of an animal rightist to a conference that has been convened to determine sustainable-use wildlife management issues? We know what they want! They want the abolition of any and all wildlife “uses” by man. So the only contribution an animal rightist can make to such a wildlife management debate is disruption.

I discussed this issue with a very liberal gentleman one day. This is how our conversation progressed.

“It is undemocratic to deny anyone the right to tell the public what he or she wishes to say,” he retorted. “We have freedom of speech in this country! Didn’t you know that?”


“Why, then,” I responded, “does society not give our serial rapists and paedophiles the opportunity to stand on their soap boxes and tell the world why raping women and sodomising children should be allowed?”

Rapists and paedophiles practice anti-social behaviour that offends civilised society,” my friend replied. “Their activities have been rejected by every decent and responsible person. Society does not tolerate such behaviour……”

“Why?” I interjected. “Is it because what they do is anti-social?”

Yes… Precisely… because what they do is anti-social!”

“O.K.. “ I said quickly. “I get your point. I agree.”

That unexpected response seemed to set my opponent back a bit! I waited to let his little victory sink in.

Then I add: “But what the animal rightists are doing is also anti-social.”

“How come?”

I looked at my questioner quizzically.

“What would you call it if an animal rightist – who disapproves of intensive chicken farming – goes to a chicken farmer’s sheds at night, opens them up, and chases the chickens out into the darkness? Then the rain comes and the chickens are all drenched. And in the morning they are all dead?”

“I would call it shameful and criminal?”

“And isn’t criminality anti-social”?  

“…. I suppose it is!”

“And if those chickens represented the farmer’s bread-and-butter? What then? Who is then going to feed that farmer and his family? Wouldn’t that, in itself be an anti-social result of the animal rightist’s illegal action?


“So…. Don’t you see the parallels? Animal rightists, rapists and paedophiles all commit anti-social acts against society. So why shouldn’t they all be forcibly marginalised?”

“But all the animal rightists want to do is to ‘save’ our wild animals from abuse by man?”

“So… What’s the difference between a Jersey cow and a rhino? The cow produces milk that the farmer sells for human consumption to a dairy. The rhino produces a horn that the game rancher can cut off without pain and sell to the people in China for use in traditional medicine. The cow and the rhino are both “products of the land”, the one is domesticated the other wild. But they both produce commodities that the farmer and/or the game rancher can sell for money – and that money represents their respective livelihoods.”

“But wildlife is different?”

“Different? How so… and why?”

“I don’t know… It just is. And lots of people think that way.”

“Well lots of people have been brain-washed by the animal rights propaganda. It is they who have put those thoughts into your head. Wild animals are not sacred cows. They can and should be used wisely and sustainably for the benefit of mankind.”

“Oh… No!   I don’t agree. It is immoral to make money out of wild animals!”

“Really? And what if I were to tell you that – of all the people on planet earth – it is the animal rightist NGOs that make the most money out of Africa’s wild animals? Some NGOs make hundreds of millions of US dollars every year!”

“I’d call you a liar!”

“All right…. let me tell you how they do it.

“They, first of all, begin a propaganda campaign… telling the world that the African elephant, for example, is ‘endangered’ and facing extinction.”

“So what? That is true!”

“Who told you that is true?”

“All good and honest animal rightists will tell you it is true.”

“Hah! The blind leading the blind!” I muse. “And, for the record, there is no such thing as a “good and honest animal rightist”!

“Huh!” he exclaims. “That’s a bit rough!”

“What if I were to tell you that every elephant population south of the Zambezi and Cunene Rivers in southern Africa is excessive?”

“What do you mean by excessive?”

“It means there are too many elephants for the game reserve habitats to sustainably support; that the elephants are trashing their habitats; that all the other animal species in the game reserves concerned are in decline – because they cannot compete with the elephant for whatever food is available to them every dry season; that major plant species have been rendered extinct; that the biodiversities of these game reserves are in free-fall collapse; and that, finally, every game reserve that is suffering these conditions is rapidly racing along the road towards becoming a desert?”

“I’d call you a liar.”

“And your animal rights propaganda? Is that not just one big lie?”

“NO! It is the truth!”

“Let me tell you, my friend, just what propaganda is. Propaganda, by definition, is:

The spreading of ideas, information or rumour for the purpose of promoting an ideal – or injuring an institution, cause or person – by any means true or false.”

 “There is nothing truthful about propaganda.”

“That is not true. There are lots of people… all over the world…. who truly believe that the elephant is facing extinction.”

“Yes, that maybe so…. but they believe it is true because they have allowed the propaganda to convince them. Biologically, it is very easy to prove that what the animal rightists’ say is NOT valid. The elephant is definitely NOT facing extinction.”

“Now why would any respectable animal welfare organisation tell a lie like that? What is there in it for them to purposefully tell society something that is not true?”

“First of all… let me correct you. True animal ‘welfare’ organisations don’t say this at all. It is the animal ‘rights’ organisations that are saying this.”

“So… What’s the difference: animal ‘welfare’… animal ‘rights’? They are one and the same thing! Right?”

“No they are not! Animal ‘welfare’ people don’t want to stop man using animals for his own benefit. All they demand is that when man uses an animal when it is alive – like when he uses a donkey to pull cart – that there be no cruelty involved in that use. And that when man kills an animal – to obtain meat to eat – the killing process must be humane! Animal rights people, on the other hand, want to abolish all animal uses by man…. in every dimension. The philosophies of animal welfare and animal rights are a million miles apart.”

 I didn’t know that! Are you sure of your facts?”


So how do these people – whoever they are – make money out of telling a lie?

“Believe me. They make money…. lots of money!”

“And how do they do that?”

“They put out a story that is not true – any story – like the African elephant is facing extinction. And they keeping pushing that story within the public domain – which they embellish with lots of gory photographs showing dead elephants with their tusks chopped out; or orphaned baby elephants whose mothers (they say) were shot by poachers.”


I ignore the interruption. “And they keep telling that lie… for months… for years… until everybody in the big cities of the First World become so brainwashed they start to believe it.”

I pause to take a breath.

“Joseph Goebels, propaganda minister for Hitler’s Third Reich during World War II, said: ‘Tell a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth’. And here, in the modern day and age, the animal rightists have been telling the world for years and years – non-stop – that the elephant is facing extinction…. even though, scientifically, that idea can be very easily proved wrong. But… whether it is a lie, or not, no longer matters. The public in the Western World has been brainwashed into believing that statement to be true. And it is the public’s perception and acceptance of this lie which is now the thing that matters.”

Silence! My companion is now thinking deeply about all that I have said. He has been so completely ignorant of the animal rightists’ modus operandi that he can’t quite believe what I have just told him. I can see him thinking. I can smell the burning wood!

“Then – once the public have been shocked rigid by the prospect of the African elephant being rendered extinct – the NGOs set about soliciting donations from the willing victims of their propaganda deceptions; and they tell their dupes that they will use their donations to make sure the elephant does NOT become extinct.

“In this way hundreds of millions of US dollars are raised by multiple animal rights organisations in the First World every year, but very little of those monies – if any – ever comes to Africa to help ‘save’ the African elephant. More than 90 percent of that donated money goes towards paying the salaries of the NGO’s executives, and towards administrative costs and extravagant fund-raising activities.

“And THAT, my friend, is fraud.”

















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 207 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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