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is an ex-game warden and retired national parks board director. He has 46
years experience in southern African wildlife management affairs including
28 years of full-time service in various national park departments and 3
years working as a professional hunter. He now writes books "to create a
better informed public" - better informed, that is, about the realities of
wildlife management. One of his books has been prescribed reading for the
Higher Diploma in Nature Conservation for the last 15 years - an academic
course offered to serving wildlife field officers by the Tshwane University
of Technology. For more than 20 years he was a Member of the British
Institute of Biology and a Chartered Biologist for the European Union.
He has vast experience in both the theoretical AND the practical application of big game management - especially elephant management.
Two of his past posts were: (1) The Provincial Game Warden i/c. of what is now Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park - one of Africa's biggest and most prestigious game reserves; and (2) The Director of the Bophuthatswana National Parks Board (in the 1980s).
Books by Ron Thomson:
Managing our Wildlife Heritage, 2007
A Game Warden's Report: The State of Wildlife in Africa at the Start of the Third Millennium, 2003
The adventures of Shadrek: Southern Africa's most infamous elephant poacher, 2001
Mahohboh: Elephants and Elephant Hunting in South Central Africa, 1997
The Wildlife Game, 1992
On Wildlife Conservation, 1986
Currently Ron is writing his big game hunting memoirs which will be released across several volumes, the first to available in 2008.
He has followed the current controversy about elephant culling in Kruger National Park since its inception and he attended the Great Elephant Indaba at Berg-en-Dal last year representing the South African Hunters Association (of which he is NOT a member).
letter to The Minister of Environmental Affairs & Tourism from Ron
To Cull or Not to Cull The Elephants of Kruger National Park
The purpose of this letter is to urge you to resume elephant culling in Kruger National Park. In my opinion Kruger is carrying three times too many elephants and the longer culling is delayed the more will the park’s biological diversity be depleted. Every responsible-thinking South African understands that Kruger National Park was created to maintain ALL the endemic wild plant and wild animal life forms that the natural ecosystems can support. It was never supposed to be a zoo for the uncontrolled proliferation of elephants.
To help you understand the validity of the pro-culling reasoning, and to help you recognise the irrationality of the anti-culling arguments, I now relate an historical sequence of events, and a few ecological principles, to put this controversy in better perspective.
In 1980 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published its mission statement which it called The World Conservation Strategy (WCS). This important protocol formed the basis of the many National Conservation Strategies (NCSs), the world over, that followed in the 1980s. This included the National Conservation Strategy of South Africa.
The WCS is the ONLY blue print in existence that spells out the fact that man and nature MUST work in synergy if both are to survive. This impels man, inter alia, to establish a symbiotic relationship with the natural world – each gaining survival benefits from their interaction with the other.
One of the cornerstone recommendations of the WCS is that man must “use” the renewable natural resources of the world – both those that are domesticated/cultivated and those that are wild – for his own benefit, in a sustainable manner.
Since the 1960s a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) movement was established which has been called The “Green” Movement. This comprises three elements: (1). TRUE environmentalists – who wish to ensure that man’s actions on earth maintains the planet in a habitable condition for both man and nature to live in; (2). TRUE animal welfarists who wish to make sure that man’s “use” of animals, when they are alive, is humane – and who wish to make sure that there is no cruelty involved in their killing, when the killing of animals is deemed necessary; and (3). animal rightists – who believe that man has NO RIGHT AT ALL to “use” or to “kill” animals (any animals) for his own benefit, or for any other purpose.
TRUE environmentalism is something that society should support – because to do otherwise is suicidal. TRUE animal welfarism is also something that society should support – because it strives to ensures that man behaves in a civilised manner when he “uses” animals.
Animal Rights-ism, on the other hand, should be rejected by responsible societies (AND BY ALL GOVERNMENTS). This should happen because it’s purpose in life is to negate the achievement of the objectives of the WCS, and because it works towards negating the achievement of the objectives of the NCSs of every sovereign state in the world, too. It’s ideology, therefore, works against what is best for the natural world and what is best for mankind.