Klaserie River Sands

Kruger should cull 88% of its elephants, says hunter Ron Thomson

Herd of elephants with target sights

Celebrated hunter Ron Thomson believes that 88% of Kruger National Park’s elephants should be culled. Our summary below is a brief one – for more information please read his full article here.

Who is Ron Thomson?

Ron Thomson is a celebrated man in hunting circles, having killed “5,000 elephants, 800 buffalo, 50/60 lions (including six man-eaters), 30/40 leopards, 50 hippos and many more”. 

Thomson’s strategy for Kruger’s elephants mirrors his activities in Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park, during his tenure as provincial game warden in the 1970’s. On his website Thomson claims to have commanded a culling team which killed 2,500 elephants and 300 hippos with military-grade automatic weapons, decimating entire herds within 60 seconds.  

Brief summary of Thomson’s article:

Thomson starts off by covering in broad strokes respected elephant expert Professor Rudi van Aarde’s ‘Landscape Elephant Management Plan’, which Thomson claims has been the management strategy of choice in Kruger National Park since 2006. Thomson rejects the underlying assumption of the plan that, left unchecked, elephant populations will fluctuate in response to food availability, with natural die-offs during dry periods. In his article, Thomson does provide a fair amount of detail explaining the assumptions behind van Aarde’s plan, and we advise you to read his article in full.

Thomson then goes on to heavily criticise the plan, using a blend of cynicism and emotionally-charged leading statements. Staying clear of these argumentative aspects of his article, we have extracted the following reasoning by Thomson to back up his strategy to cull 88% of Kruger’s elephants:

• Young elephants will die during natural dry cycles, due to lack of sufficient food generated firstly by the ecosystem and secondly by lactating mothers. He suggests that this is no better and no less cruel than the culling of entire elephant herds;

• Many other species, including rhinos, will also suffer population crashes when elephants are left to naturally impact on landscapes. Thomson: “It would seem, for whatever reason, the scientists who have applied the Landscape plan have deliberately turned Kruger National Park into a pure elephant sanctuary.”;

• Once the elephant population has been trimmed to the right number, the population’s annual increment can be easily culled every year in order to create dynamically stable numbers that will always remain within the habitat’s carrying capacity;

• During a culling programme, selected breeding herds are eliminated in their entirety whilst other breeding herds are left totally alone. This enables the untouched herds to carry on with their lives, as before, after every annual culling operation comes to a close;

• Bulls are selectively shot separately. Thomson: “In my opinion, the number of bulls killed should at least equal the number of adult cows that are killed. Bulls live apart from cows so they have to be handled differently and separately. Cognisance must also be taken of the fact that bulls cause infinitely more damage to top canopy trees than do the cows! So they may have to be culled more heavily than cows!”

• An experienced culling team – with three expert marksmen using self-loading rifles and operating in unison – is capable of eliminating elephant breeding herds numbering 30 to 50 animals in less than sixty seconds;

• Thomson: “I have no doubt in my mind that the correct management option for the elephants of Kruger is to reduce their numbers to 2 500 … So PLEASE – everybody– let’s make this happen!”

Editorial comment: Based on Thomson’s estimate of 20,000 elephants currently in Kruger, a population of 2,500 elephants implies the removal by culling of 88% of Kruger’s elephants.

Africa Geographic Editorial

We're the Africa Geographic editorial team – a diverse set of editors, designers and social media natives, all united by our passion for this addictive continent.

  • Simon Epstein

    Gotta love the way this article was written — with severe bias. AG is a bunch of smarmy douche$.

    • Andrea Morin-Perez

      “Opinion editorial, opinions not necessarily ours.” Except when it’s written by AG staff, all of whom are biased as f#ck, so much so that they don’t even see it. Pff…Journalism, my a$$.

  • All opinions welcome, but bad behaviour will result in you being banned from this forum. For further details read our Comment Policy under “About” in the tab at the top of this page. The first two comments in reaction to this post included swearing and insults, and both people have been banned.

    • Voice of Reason

      The hypocrisy of the editorial staff at AG knows no bounds. They have permitted numerous insulting posts calling for the death of people like Ron Thomson, yet they won’t ban the people posting them. I’ve already seen two comments here that are calling for the death of Mr. Thomson, yet AG doesn’t ban them for inciting violence. Utter nonsense.

      • Hello Voice of Reason, thanks for your thoughts. One comment on this feed calling directly for Mr Thomson to be culled has been removed, in addition to more than 100 similar comments on Facebook. Perhaps you would achieve better dialogue if you tempered your tone? Just a thought.

        • A private Safari guide

          Sir – I see the post of A Private Safari Guide has been removed – ‘pourquoi’?

          • Your comment is there. The software that we use (Disqus) automatically removes lengthy comments and places them in a file for review as possible spam. We conduct this review once a day. To avoid this it’s best to reduce word count 😉

      • Jamie Smith

        Wow, such strong words from the Voice of Reason! Seems like you are just another troll bully type hiding behind a pseudonym?

      • Pete Murless

        Unfortunately my friend you must realize that AG is profoundly anti hunting of any kind and are promoters of animal rights….

        • Mike Sebastian

          LOL, heaven help us if animals had rights. The fact that you meant this is as a slant towards AG says enough about you.

          • Pete Murless

            Sorry that you took that personally, Mike. what does LOL mean please? Actually I do believe animals have rights,for example they have the right to a decent life, I actually sympathize with a lot that the animal rights movement stands for, at the same time I think this movement has a lot of money behind it from wealthy urban people , who really have little understanding of wildlife management issues. And it seems I stand corrected by Jamie Smith, in that AG has become more ballanced with time.

        • Jamie Smith

          Pete Murless. If you search on the African Geographic blogsite as I just did (to test your claim) you would have found plenty of posts that would suggest a somewhat more level-headed editorial ambit than you suggest. Two examples: https://africageographic.com/blog/hunting-tourism-namibia/ and https://africageographic.com/blog/a-namibians-view-on-hunting-in-his-home-country/.

          • Pete Murless

            Thanks, Jamie.

    • Brain

      Why was my response to Lex Hes deleted?

      • Hi Brain, Your comment is there. The software that we use (Disqus) automatically removes lengthy comments and places them in a file for review as possible spam. We conduct this review once a day. To avoid this it’s best to reduce word count 😉

  • Mike Sebastian

    This comes as no surprise – Thompson is a very vocal advocate for killing as many animals as possible. He also reacts very badly to being questioned – tending to name call and insult his opponents. Perhaps this man has psychological issues that go deep down, and it would appear that there are enough crazy trophy hunters out there to keep his ego running at full throttle. I have read his book “GOD CREATED MAN THE HUNTER” – say no more.

  • Graham Dyer

    Celebrated by a few – reviled, loathed and revulsed by the rest! He and his clearly unsatisfied deviant lust-to-kill-as-much-as-possible belong in the 1800’s with the rest of the butchers from that era.

  • Kelly Skinner

    They’ve sent a man to the moon.Couldn’t someone have a herd of elephants “accidentally ” CULL Ron Thompson?

    • dfhdfh

      this is an insult. you should be banned

      • Les

        dfhdfh you are an oxygen thief and you should be banned

        • dfhdfh

          got my wish 🙂

      • Kelly Skinner

        How is it an insult?Let’s hear it please.

  • Craig Middleton

    There is no doubt that there are way too many elephants in the Kruger area, and this is having a massive negative impact on various animal and plant species. If the elephant numbers are left to increase even further it’s going to be detrimental to the entire ecosystem where biodiversity will be lost, and once the ecosystem is destroyed it will take hundreds of years for it to get back to its once original state. Culling is a sensitive issue, but it’s the quickest and most economically viable method of reducing elephant numbers. Long ago there were no fences, animals could move as they please. Now they are fenced in and can’t migrate to greener pastures. Because of this, and whether you like it or not, animal numbers HAVE to be controlled – be it translocation, contraception or culling, something has to be done or the Greater Kruger National Park will be destroyed forever.

    • Mike Sebastian

      How many is “too many” and what do you base your measurement on? “Destroyed forever” – based on what do you get to this rather dramatic statement? Seems like those actually charged with managing the Kruger ecosystem have a different opinion to yours.

      • Brain

        Read, sir. Read.

        • Mike Sebastian

          Read what, specifically?

  • Kati Pietiäinen

    Mr. Thomson is clearly putting into effect this : http://www.pnas.org/content/114/30/E6089.abstract

    • Stephen Palos

      While the research you quote here is excellent food for thought, I would suggest you read it properly, and again read what Mr Thomson is saying. For you will actually find it is HIS solution that will precisely AVOID the population extinctions which Kruger currently faces by virtue of their destructive policy.
      The article says “When considering this frightening assault on the foundations of human civilization, one must never forget that Earth’s capacity to support life, including human life, has been shaped by life itself”. That is ALL life IN BALANCE, and currently Kruger IS NOT IN BALANCE….

  • Deepak Mohinani

    This man is a mentally unstable psychopathic serial killer. If his victims had been humans, he would have been locked up for life, if not, he would have definitely have been put to death.
    Why the hypocrisy when it comes to animals?
    I say we rid the planet of this scum!

  • Stephanie Fuchs

    Is there a way to open some of Kruger NPs fences to join with neighbouring Game Areas to avoid this? It is true that too many elephants in one place have a detrimental effect on their environment but surely in the face of how close elephants are to extinction, it does not make sense to kill that many? How about translocation, selling them to other National Parks, removing fences, the elephant pill? And what to do with the large amount of ivory if this were to go ahead. What impact is this going to have on the illegal ivory trade? Elephants right now need to be protected and anything that might cause them to be hunted even more, must not be done.

    • Simon Espley

      Hi Stephanie, greetings, hope all is good with you? Enjoy your posts and perspective on Maasai life in Tanzania. There is a pretty in-depth Kruger management plan in place – which includes expanding the park. Of course Mozambique is a big opportunity in that regard, and that process has already started on the eastern boundary – but this comes with great poaching risk. The plan includes many initiatives, including others that you touch on – and the team is doing their best to manage this special complex place. I am planning an in-depth report on Kruger’s elephant management plan – when I have the time. I am no expert, so reading and summarising will take me a while 🙂

      • Stephanie Fuchs

        Thank you Simon for your reply. I look forward to reading your report on this issue.

  • William Douglas

    I think elephant society is a lot more complex than Mr Thomson thinks. If he believes that killing entire family herds, however quickly and “humanely”, has no impact on the remaining herds, he is mistaken. There is evidence of complex interaction between related and unrelated herds for example at waterholes. The idea behind killing mature bulls because they can damage foliage higher up in the canopy seems also to be dubious. What is needed is a properly conducted, independent study of the impact of elephant populations on the vegetation in and around the Kruger park. I think that would put this idea to bed.

    • Simon Espley

      Agreed. So if Thomson has his way and the elephant population is whittled down to 2,500 – imagine how terrified those would be of humans and of any mechanical sound – vehicles, helicopters etc. A terrified elephant is a dangerous elephant. His singling out of mature bulls is to feed the trophy hunting industry. Most of what Thomson says has to do with generating business for the trophy hunting industry.

  • Dennis Glosik

    I dont think it’s elephants that need the culling in this particular case…..

  • Dex Kotze

    Lethal control of elephants belong in the archives of past atrocities mankind has exerted on animals, in the same mould as the holocaust. The Great Elephant Census results last year showed that savannah elephant populations dropped 30% in 7 years, down to 352 271. Kruger is right next to Mozambique where elephant populations dropped 48% to only 10 300. Already a massive spike in elephants poached in Kruger year-on-year 2015/16 is showing signs (God forbidding) of possibly the same route we have seen in rhinos being poached since 2007. Elephant herds do meet up with other herds and clear recognition and friendship can be seen when this happens. I’d far rather have readers look at reputable research than the biased opinion of someone who brags in this day and age of personally being responsible for the massacre of over 5000 elephants. https://www.sanparks.org/assets/docs/parks_kruger/elephants/knp-elephant-management-plan.pdf

    • Mike Sebastian

      As a reader I prefer to read all angles on this debate. Personally I think that Thomson’s theory is laughable, but I still want to read about it.

    • Brain

      Or they eat everything in a fenced in reserve and unwittingly cause an extreme loss in biodiversity – the starvation and death of countless other species.

    • Atholl Mitchell

      Dex, I so agree with your sentiments!!!!!
      It is so ironic that the reason for all these discussions is the simple fact that animals have been “contained” at the want and behest of HUMANS!!!!
      What a joke. Why not apply the same principle to the Human Race? We are breeding far too quickly and for a supposed “intelligent” species are causing all these decisions to be made.
      I know this is an age old topic, but it is rather disturbing when in the same NG news letter the next item is to do with mans inability to live without communication – BAN SATELLITE AND CELL PHONES IN THE WILD!!!!!

  • Alice

    Hasn’t Ron Thomson killed enough animals? 5000 elephants, 800 buffalo’s, 40 Leopards, 60 Lions and 50 Hippo’s. Why? He must hate animals and why is he not fighting for birth control amongst humans who are heading towards 8 billion in the near future. Elephants have a pregnancy of 22 months and it takes 4 to 5 years before the next one is born. I personally think that Mr Thomson is a mass murderer who enjoys killing. He should be locked up.

  • Fanie

    If you shoot an elephant, where the crosses are pointing, on the photo, you’ll end up wounding it.

  • Abi Hearn

    Ethical management of elephant populations has been in debate for years. While i think killling innocent animals is awful and especially ad I love elephants and have worked with them in the past, as a conservationist you do need to act in some way because kruger is not a natural ecosystem. The habitat is too small for the aninals there and leaving the elephants unchecked will put other species at risk. I am not for killing thousands of elephants but this park is entirely fenced in with nowhere for the animals to go in times of drought etc. The massive mara in comparison supports so many animals due to their ability to migrate with the rain patterns. So what else could they do? Hormonal contraceptives? Relations? All are so expensive so of course it is the option being thrown out there. By making kruger bigger or creating wildlife corridors for animals to migrate seasonally then you could reduce the necessity of culling, but until then it kind of is the only option.

    Also back when culling was adult ele’s only the young males were moved to parks with no patriarchs to learn from and were mostly culled for their delinquent behaviour so it is necessary to cull an entire herd.

    And on another note, if governments were not corrupt and pocketed all the money from issuing hunting licenses for killing certain trophy animals, then the money from killing an elephant could actually be put to use like purchasing land, building new fences, relocating elephants or anti-poaching units. Then it wouldn’t feel like elephants were being killed for nothing.

    Just saying.

  • Tom Jones

    This same discussion played in my Tropical Ecology I had in Kruger in 2015. We had several very strong anti-hunting elephant advocates in my class. Over our 21 day trip we had speakers from both the pro hunting and anti hunting speakers. We had been told by both sides prior to 1997 elephant populations were around 9,000 in 2015 the best estimate was around 21,000. Every trip both walking and driving, elephant damage was everywhere. My most vocal anti hunting student, a MS in Biology student asked a simple statement after hearing an anti hunting speaker. She asked “So your idea is to let the population to grow until it exceeds the carrying capacity and then the population collapses due starvation?” The speaker said “Yes”. My student followed up with “what about all the other species that depend on trees?” The speaker said “They would be extirpated first.” My student asked “What if they are the last known stronghold for the species?” The speaker said “It’s nature’s way”. My student sat there a while then said “So you are choosing to save elephants, not endangered in Kruger over rare or endangered species?” The speaker, “Yes”. My student sat there for a few minutes pondering. Then whispered “that’s wrong!” Hands on learning is the best kind.

    • tiddas

      This ridiculous response begs the question of other measures — like elephant corridors and relocations.

    • Pete Murless

      This is the most sensible letter amongst all the emotional nonsense
      that all these other humans have published here. It seems that the animal rights movement has got the floor, and then common sense is absent…Has everyone forgotten what happened in Tsavo under the management of Sheldrick? The park was turned into desert by elephants….and because of this black rhino populations crashed.

      • Mike Bromwich

        100% right on the rhino population crash, they died before the elephant numbers crashed. Parks in southern Africa are finite in area and whether one likes it or not animal populations require management if plant and animal diversity is to be maintained.

  • Ray S

    There are simply way too many elephants in Kruger. Go visit Kruger and drive around and see how elephants have turned bush into arid land. No tall trees.. and so no birds nests and so no birds. No tall trees.. no trees.. no bush.. nowhere for smaller animals to thrive and hide.. many areas of Kruger are like this. It is becoming the elephant park at the expense of other animals. Way too few antelope in Kruger. No trees.. no shade. Elephants are destroying Kruger.. they cannot migrate west to greener areas due to fences. Not good at all. The only option would be culling whether Thomson is right or wrong and a hunter or not. There is no other way. The bunny huggers will be left hugging a desert Kruger full of dead elephants and nothing else. Kruger used to cull elephants and they stopped culling.. elephant populations have shot up incredibly.. and Kruger now has less trees, less animals- and a less rosy future. By letting this happen, the only solution is mass culling- until such time as the elephant population is reduced to viable levels and then only small scale culling would be necessary. But now, mass culling is necessary as the elephant population is so huge in Kruger and has done so much damage that even after a mass cull it would take years for Kruger’s trees and bushes to grow back especially in the droughts we are now having on a regular basis. These droughts make it even more imperative that Kruger massively culls its elephants. The situation is severe and it seems that Kruger will simply let its elephants breed other species into oblivion and turn Kruger into the Kalahari. What short sighted madness. Welcome to Afrika.

    • Pete Murless


  • tiddas

    Why is anyone taking sustainability lessons from a hunter?

  • Private Safari Guide

    Ron is a man firstly and foremost passionate about the wildlife with which he has been associated for possibly longer than almost anyone alive in conservation in Africa today. He is outspoken, but he is a man of vast experience, and the many on this discussion group who has slighted him have taken little heed of his experience and the results of what he has achieved in his lifetime. His methods are unpopular today – but then who is providing sustainable workable solutions to the real problems we face at hand? Man has enclosed wild spaces to spaces that are no longer wild – they are defined by fences and the other artificial ingredients man has introduced. Therefore it is encumbent upon man to manage these areas – management which includes animal reduction is not popular – not even by those who have to do the job (Yes I have witnessed the sadness such men experience in this task). All the same I have witnessed with first hand the incredible skill these men have when it comes to culling – sparing unnecessary suffering in a filthy job no one wishes to take the responsibility for. Elephants are among my favourites and I am too horified by the thought of their reduction, but we must take responsibility for our initial act of enclosing a species that by its very design and nature ecologically is a vegetation controller and a non territorial wanderer over huge areas in its home range needs for food, water and breeding. By constraining a species with low predation, numbers grow largely without constraints, other than those of water and food supply. Once this single species so dominates any environment it affects everyone (all other species) in an area. Our management efforts are at best a ‘playing God’, with lessons mostly being learned from mistakes. An inactive approach to do nothing has proven in the past to be disastrous in other regions of Africa where Elephant populations have been left unchecked. To sustain the KNP’s management policy of maintaining optimal biodiversity – it is impossible to achieve with one species being favoured over another, even if this species is the amazing elephant. Moving of elephant has reached saturation for areas that can accommodate them, and often these areas too now have a similar overpopulation problem to contend with. Birth control as a method of limiting popularions has limited success, and only has any success in small populations (and even this has not worked in places that I have worked) , and the social effects among elephant of this method have also yet to be properly understood. Naysayers – Ron Thompson has worked and developed with and wildlife techniques since and before most were born. It might serve you to read a little of his working history before slighting him – from the days of Operation Noah in Kariba; Zimbabwe. While not all he says may be correct (none of us has the perfect answer) – he is to be respected for his vast experience and achievements.

  • Jamie Smith

    Interesting article, and discussion – thanks AG. Seems like many people (not all!) feel that some degree of culling is justifiable – but 88% of the population?

  • Raymond Jennen

    So sad…..

  • Jaco Zeeman

    A bit ofthinking is what I did after reading Rons’ suggestion and all the comments
    below. May I play devil’s advocate?!

    I assume that all those of you against the culling of excess elephants lives
    with all of their family members and friends in one house since the 15th
    century? I assume they share and eat the same amount of food that was in
    the house 500 years ago without increasing the amount or volume!? I assume that
    the young ones in the family and their elders, all die of malnutrition or
    hunger until there are such numbers of people in the house that can survive on
    the historical food supply, increase till death and the strongest keep on surviving!

    I assume that those against culling have hundreds of dogs and cats in there
    yards and houses, feeding and caring for them!

    Okay, I assumed wrong!

    All the friends have their own houses and all the grown up “children”
    live elsewhere in other geographical areas. Everyone sources his/her food, which was produced elsewhere, from outside the original pool or source! All access animals were given to friends, family, all and sundry or sterilized etc.! Simply because your food source and
    space is restricted!

    However, all of you expect the elephants to survive on the piece of land that
    was put aside for them AND all the other species animlas and then thrive and live on it
    without any interference (read management) from those that created the
    situation. The animals that suffers the most are not the elephants because they
    can walk 30-50km per day to water and food! The wildebeest, zebra, eland, tsetsebe,
    duiker, steenbuck and others cannot. The reptiles and smaller mammals living
    under dead plant material, thick bushes etc. does not have cover or food because the elaphants have right of “way” if I may use that term. The birds that needs high trees to nest in does not have enough trees to sustain their respective populations. And so I can go on and on and on …. With logic!

    Are the elephants more important than all the other animals combined?! Can allowing the elephant population to destroy all the other animals’ habitat been called conservation? Have
    you seen the Chobe National Park in Botswana lately? Have you seen certain
    parts of the Kruger lately?
    Don’t allow those animals that are huge and in your eyes allow you to diminish the beauty and importance of all the smaller animals, which habitat is destroyed daily by increasing numbers of elephants.

    Now, you will probably say that more land must be given to them! From where?
    You will probably say that humans must decrease their numbers for the animals
    to have more land and thrive! Will you set the example and start with yourself
    and your family?

    When humans interfered many years ago, for the sake of conservation, management of
    these same animals and habitat they wanted to protect, became a reality. The same with
    animals in a fenced (or for that matter unfenced) area. Part of management is unfortunately
    managing numbers. The words culling, killing etc. sound harsh however; animal
    management is a harsh reality. Life for to many animals locked up in a million square
    kilometer area is harsh! Not only for the huge ones, but for the small ones, birds, reptiles and insects as well!

    All you have to do is think a little …… logic …..

  • Monica Gilbert

    In the days of the Raj, Ron Thomson would have been hailed as a messiah. These days he is considered a fossil whose glory days of slaughtering thousands of elephants and other creatures is seen as anathema by those who understand the intelligence and family hierarchy of elephants.

  • Ernie Meyer

    The numbers don’t add up…as is there is only 30% of the original elephants left due to poaching.

    • ctulpa

      Lower in many areas of Africa, but way overpopulated in some areas. You can’t use a continent figure for local populations.

  • Paul Phelan

    The message that is coming through and is correct ,is that we have local populations of elephant which exceed the habitat carrying capacity . This is causing habitat destruction and massive loss of biodiversity . Protected areas are not set aside for elephant alone and as such populations need to be kept in balance , be it by the removal of those in over population, by capture and relocation or by euthanazing them . We in wild life have our backs to the wall .
    If capture is the route then those in favour please raise R100 000 per elephant and a suitable area for relocation.We can then proceed . Mud slinging does not help to solve a very accute problem in our protected areas .

  • Rodney Genricks

    Ron Thomson first and foremost is a highly qualified conservationists besides others collecting and preserving the largest egg collection for the study and research of birds he has spent his life studying the symbiotic relationships between the soil, plants and animals so his conclusions are not based on emotional issues.
    The conclusions he has come to are based on years of practical experience and the Kruger National Park is in a desperate position as far as it’s habitat is concerned and cannot support its elephant any longer.
    Single species protectionist continue to spread total false perceptions but whenever they are placed in a debate with a person like Ron Thomson they simply have no answer except one based with tears in the eyes… “Please save the …….. ” this while the funds roll in for one or another cause that is simply based on the emotional horror portray by these ARAS.
    It is time to distinguish from those that make a noise and those who know what they are talking about.

  • Lex Hes

    I haven’t read Thomson’s full article, but a couple of comments on the main points of this summary:

    1. If leaving elephants to die is no better or no less cruel than culling, then we don’t have to worry about doing culling. Nature will do it for us.
    2. On what information does he base the statement that rhinos will crash if elephant numbers increase?
    3. “Dynamically Stable” numbers is a complete contradiction in terms. The natural world doesn’t work on stable numbers, it works on dynamic changes in numbers on a constant basis. Animal numbers rise and fall according to environmental conditions and these rises and falls contribute to the healthy working of the ecosystem.
    4. Further to this, there is no way that any scientist can know for sure what the “carrying capacity” of any landscape is at any given moment in time, because there are so many environmental conditions that change this “carrying capacity” constantly.
    5. Thomson goes back to a very old-fashioned idea that trees must be protected. The trees and other plants in African ecosystems have been subjected to “damage” from elephants and other animals over thousands of years and it is exactly this kind of activity that has shaped the ecosystems into what they are today.

    If we all have a better understanding of how ecosystems work, we’ll begin to understand that human management options on actually more destructive.

    • Simon Espley

      Thanks Lex. Wise words…

    • Brain

      Hello, Lex. Wanted to respond to your comments, point by point:

      1. Nature cannot self-regulate properly when it’s fenced. Kruger National Park has too many elephants, resulting in a loss of biodiversity. Relocation is insanely expensive, and even if some elephants do get relocated, there wouldn’t be enough in South Africa’s budget to relocate the necessary amount of elephants to restore the ecosystem. And even if they did, where would the elephants go? There are few places left; most fenced in reserves that have elephants are already at max capacity.
      2. This isn’t rocket science: rhinos are grazers (white rhino) and browsers (black rhino). The elephants of Kruger National Park are no longer migratory (see first answer regarding fences), and as such, are depleting the ecosystem of food that would otherwise be eaten by other browsers and grazers. A single adult elephant can eat up to an average of 226 kg per day. Multiply that by the estimated number of elephants in Kruger (12 000), with the knowledge that they are primarily grazers (same as white rhinos) and you can easily see that rhinos will eventually become locally extinct, not to mention that they’re already being poached at unprecedented rates for their horns.
      3. You’re right, the natural world doesn’t work on stable numbers, but dynamic changes. However, Kruger is not technically a wilderness; it is a fenced in park. Humans live on all sides of it. They will not relocate because you want them to. The government won’t move them because you want them to. Try as you might, Kruger, though beautiful, is a park, not a wilderness. Ergo, nature cannot rely on dynamic changes. It requires wildlife management.
      4. Scientists do understand carrying capacity in a managed ecosystem through a combination of measurements (e.g. statistical analyses, bell curves, algorithms designed with environmental variables, changes and aberrations, etc.) Once more, this all points to the simple fact that Kruger is fenced, not free.
      5. Trees must be protected in a confined area. Were this true wilderness, we could simply let nature sort it out, but as you can clearly see through each counterargument, Kruger is not true wilderness.

      The sad fact is that most parks remaining in Africa cannot survive without human intervention. We need humans to protect wildlife from poachers because they cannot look after themselves. We need humans to mitigate human-wildlife conflict when animals stray from a park or reserve. And we need to ensure biodiversity in lieu of single species management.

      • Walter Tingle

        Realistically put Brian.This is how it is, not how we’d prefer..

  • Jhm0699

    The main problem is the high concentration of elephants in Kruger. Establishing elephant corridors between countries has been talked about for years. It’s time to stop talking and start acting. There are areas in Africa with very few or no elephants and then those like Kruger with too many. If they were to spread out through the corridors this discussion would be a moot point and people like Thomson could be gagged. But once the corridors are established the governments would have to enforce the safety of those corridors and prevent people from inhabiting them. No more rogue villages crowding out the wildlife.

    With the current poaching rates and reducing Kruger’s elephant population to 2500, it won’t be long before Kruger will be devoid of elephants. What a profoundly sad state that would be for everyone.

    • Pete Murless

      That is exactly what has happened in Tanzania Im afraid. I worked there for 13 years, Tanzania has no culling policy in their parks. It is wildlife protection. Culling is unknown. Elephants seem to increase rather rapidly , reach a good population size, and then the poachers move in…. Elephant numbers have declined by 80 percent in Ruaha and Selous, due to out of control poaching, involving government institutions. The government of Tanzania, rather than admit that there is a general breakdown of law and order, rather tried to shift the blame to the controlled trophy hunting industry.

  • Gail Mckay

    It is impossible to subscribe to the opinions of an advocate of hunting…..hunters have wiped out lions in Liuwa valley in Zambia over the past 50 years….they just seem to change their aim to another species. This is in the name of self gratification NOT best practice.

  • Alex Kendziorski

    Killing 88% of any species in an ecosystem is collapse, not management. Assuming this is valid, and a hunter recommending hunting is not a hammer and nail approach, it means Kruger is not a functioning ecosystem. More habitat, intact migration corridors. If it is not functioning as an ecosystem, it is a zoo.

  • J Stuckey

    WTH, “celebrated”… by who? ‘Like minded’ killers?

    Trophy hunting is thrill killing, the man is no different than a serial killer, keeping souvenir trinkets (body parts) and all – Killing is not conservation, it is just killing. The intentional, systematic and/or ritualistic barbaric slaughter of fellow sentient beings makes us all less human & this lack of wonder, compassion, empathy, and basic respect for the lives of our fellow Earthlings obviously directly threatens our own existence.

    The corrupted ideology of human supremacy will eventually destroy us and our living planet (we’re currently doing a fairly superior bang-up job).

    So this is more of the same garbage regurgitated by hunters, so as to try and gain the opportunity to have a murderfest – trophy hunting is a dark stain on our shared humanity… WE HAVE NO RIGHT!

  • brandon

    id like to go hunt this guy down and take him out….thats what i call a good hunt.

    this guys plan is hilarious and is purely a justification for more killing to satisfy his blood lust. killing elephants is not the solution to population management, mother nature will take care of that all by herself. killing an animal is unethical, that alone is a reason not to do it.

  • Angela

    This murdering must STOP !! we will have no animals left , they need to have their land back and free to roam. The greed of humans must stop their Egos and their pocket books !! It’s an atrocity

  • Angela

    This man needs to be stopped and brought to court and thrown in jail

  • Madeleine Edwards

    Well I am European, I don’t know Africa very well and have only spent a little while in the Kruger and I don’t know Ron Thompson.You may ask how does she qualify to join this discussion? Because I am European and we are fed, almost daily, beautiful programs about Africa with cute elephant babies, sweet lion cubs ,the naughty poachers,the plight of the rhino. We happily go on safari and watch these magnificent beasts grazing on bushes next to your vehicle totally unaware what an overpopulation of elephants really means. After all we return home full of stories about our encounters with them.However, I can see that Ron Thompson is not writing his article from a hunters point of view, but as a conservationist who cares about the sustainability of the environment. His solution of culling fills me with horror, elephants starving to death has an equal affect, but I understand that a solution has to be found soon I order to preserve the biodiversity of the Kruger. Therein lies a problem. If the only solution would be culling of elephants and the fall out that has been mentioned in previous posts (relationships between herds, a scared elephant is a dangerous one etc) to preserve the biodiversity and the ‘ lesser’ species, millions of us would take to the street in protest, emotions riding high. Because we only know what has been shown to us via the media and we never get the true picture from people who really know.We are guilty, to a large extent of letting this situation get out of hand, if indeed this is the case. We just don’t know and understand the real situation. Culling elephants, impossible to discuss without emotion and whoever suggests this as an answer will be, to put it mildly, disliked. I can absolutely appreciate the problem and that it has to be dealt with in the very near future to protect the Kruger for many more generations but i have absolutely no answer to this emotionally charged issue.

  • joao

    listen to this informed opinion : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMzihLhLWSE

  • Linda von Holdt

    The hunters opinions are not credible. There is no mention of his qualifications other than killing!

    • ctulpa

      If Kruger does not take drastic measures to reduce the overpopulated elephants, they will lose more than that from starvation. The Kruger elephants have destroyed almost all the canopy trees that used to be plentiful in Kruger. It may already be too late for them as they have destroyed the habitat. Let’s see everyone here crying when the Kruger elephants crash from starvation. People need to wake up.

      You can try to slam Ron Thomson, who is not a hunter, but an elephant and wildlife manager for 58 years. For 24 of those years he was employed by the Rhodesian Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management, including posts held as Provincial Game Warden-in-charge Hwange National Park; Chief Nature Conservation Officer, Ciskei; and Director of the Bophuthatswana National Parks Board. Ron has more elephant experience than any living person in Africa. He has written several books about elephants and elephant management. He has a deep commitment for the preservation and conservation of wildlife, and has the experience to make informed decisions about elephants. Mr Thomson has written many books on elephants, their behaviour and elephant conservation. He is regarded as the top authority for understanding elephant management in Africa.

      So for all you people posting angry comments and not knowing what you are writing about, you should read and learn so you can understand that wildlife preservation begins with the soil, plants and habitat, not the animal.

      Please take some time to read about the plight of the Kruger elephants. They are in a sad and difficult situation right now. Hard choices must be made. No one is saying to put those elephants out for hunters. Culling is not hunting.

      Ron in no way wants to kill any elephants. It is his concern is for the greater good and future for the elephants to survive. Sometimes hard decisions must be made that no one wants, but is much better than the alternative of the herd crashing from starvation, and the loss of entire biodiversity because no one wants to manage the population of elephants.

      You can read much more to understand the issue about the elephants:

  • Linda von Holdt

    Fortunately some of us have studied and read. We don’t claim to be experts but our opinions definitely differ

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