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No Timbavati ‘100 Pounder’ elephant hunt

Contrary to the social media hysteria over the past few weeks, there will be no ‘Super Tusker’ ‘100 Pounder’ elephant hunted at Timbavati in the Greater Kruger. There was never going to be such a hunt.

That juicy but ultimately misleading story resulted in some pretty vicious social media attacks on lodges within Timbavati and calls to boycott Timbavati lodges – the very lodges that represent the only viable alternative funding solution to trophy hunting, and have almost no say in the reserve’s management decisions.

The irony is that the real debate should be about the trophy hunts that do in fact happen at Timbavati (and other nearby reserves). I would like to believe that every reasonable person out there wishes that trophy hunting as a means of game reserve funding would stop.

However this debate requires accurate facts and proper context, in the interest of informed and responsible discourse. This issue – the use of trophy hunting for conservation benefit – is complex and emotional for most of us (me included) and it surely deserves better than what we have witnessed in the past few weeks. I ask that you please read to the very end of this long post.

THE BIG ISSUE

Four private nature reserves – Balule, Klaserie, Timbavati and Umbabat – collectively referred to as the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR), share an unfenced border with South Africa’s Kruger National Park and every year apply to the relevant authorities for their offtake permits (trophy hunting and culling). Revenue from trophy hunting pays for the management of the reserves and culling is done to reduce the impact of certain species (mainly impalas) on the vegetation, especially during periods of drought. Included in the most recent offtake application was the trophy hunting of elephants, lions, buffalos and rhinos. Leopards were also on the list, but that was a formality because there is a zero leopard hunting quota countrywide and therefore no such permit will be issued.

A journalist writing for an activist platform obtained a copy of the requested offtake figures for the four combined reserves from informal sources. He added the terms ‘100-Pounder’ and ‘Super Tusker’ to the equation, suggested impropriety surrounding the leopard issue, focused his anger on Timbavati (more specifically on Timbavati tourism lodges), and went public with a somewhat dramatic headline. The story was accepted at face value, and republished by various publications and activists. One publication even added ‘canned’ hunting to their headline, to spice things up.

The use of hunting as a means to an end by private game reserves is not a new story. In fact, Timbavati was called out a few years back by Africa Geographic in this post. Shortly after, we were corrected about facts relating to lodges within Timbavati in this reply by a representative of the lodges.

The two contextual matters that should frame this debate:

1. Zero poaching

Timbavati has suffered zero poaching incidents in the past 18 months, a period when neighboring private reserves and the Kruger itself have experienced unprecedented loss of rhinos and elephants to international wildlife crime syndicates. This rare success does not, in my opinion, justify keeping trophy hunting into the future, but it does demonstrate the calibre of management happening at Timbavati.

2. The ‘100-Pounder’, ‘Super Tusker’ elephant

Much of the uproar in social media circles was caused because the activist platform elevated the status of one particular elephant in the offtake application from ‘trophy bull’ to ‘100-Pounder’ and ‘Super Tusker’. And yet there never was going to be a ‘100 Pounder’ or ‘Super Tusker’ hunt.

Perhaps this was simply opportunistic marketing because the topic of ‘Super Tuskers’ was trending on social media and emotions (including mine) were running high after this tragic story the previous week about the loss of yet another of Tsavo’s Super Tuskers – giant elephants with tusks in excess of 100 pounds each – highly sought-after by trophy hunters.

The use of these specific terms by the activist platform demands a closer look.

Hunting any elephant is, in my opinion, just wrong – but for now let’s focus on the facts of this particular situation. Regarding the offtake application in question, the ‘trophy bull’ requested specifically excluded Tuskers / Super Tuskers. Not only does the Timbavati protocol exclude all ‘iconic’, named, and collared elephants, management have also stated categorically that no 100-Pounder will be hunted even if one is found that is not named, collared, or iconic – as the agreed protocol and agreements with the relevant authorities specifically excludes all 100-Pounders. This information was provided to the journalist who wrote the story.

According to Timbavati management, the ‘trophy elephant’ in question will firstly be older than 50 years (they believe that these old bulls have lost too much condition to compete with younger breeding bulls and are therefore no longer contributing to the population. I disagree, but let’s move on for now), and secondly ‘tusk weight unlimited’ – a very vague and clumsy wording, but apparently meaning that they stopped defining elephant trophies by tusk size after advice by researchers that this practice was detrimental to the large tusked elephant gene pool.

During my research into this issue, I obtained the hunting records from Timbavati for the past 10 years. I discovered that no 100 Pounders were hunted during that period, and in a subsequent email discussion determined that no 100 Pounder has been hunted in the area for at least 19 years (current management memory). The heaviest tusk record I could trace over 10 years was 60 pounds in 2013. In other words, no Tuskers or Super Tuskers.

If ‘100-Pounder’ ‘Super Tuskers’ were never in the picture to begin with, why was this the headliner and main message being driven home by the journalist and activist platform? Was this a giant red herring?

Let’s now focus on Timbavati and why they use trophy hunting to fund their costs, so that we can come up with viable alternatives. 

Social media reaction by various Timbavati lodges in reaction to the article in question. Note that these are not adverts. ©Tanda Tula

Background and history to Timbavati

The 53,395 hectare Timbavati in the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa, has used trophy hunting to finance the running of the reserve (including anti-poaching operations) since it was proclaimed in 1956. At the time, the land was farmed and had become degraded with very few wild animals around – despite sharing a border with the Kruger. The owners agreed to forgo farming income and place the land into permanent protected status, with restrictive title deed endorsement binding all future owners, and the ongoing costs to be funded by operations.

In the subsequent 37 years, wildlife numbers grew in this fenced reserve. In 1993, fences between Timbavati and Kruger were dropped to permit natural local migration of wildlife. Timbavati thus became part of one of Africa’s best conservation success stories, increasing the size of the Greater Kruger by 10% to 2.2 million hectares.

At Timbavati, the trophy hunting is highly regulated, based on annual census and scientific assessment by external scientists, in the context of environmental factors. This leads to offtake applications and ultimately regulatory approval.

Wildlife populations in Timbavati

Over the past 20 years, annual population counts in Timbavati show stability in wildlife populations, subject to cycles associated with drought and abundance. The fact that animals can migrate freely into the massive neighboring Kruger also adds an element of fluctuation to populations. I have studied the stats provided, conducted my own layman analysis, and asked questions with a critical eye.

Significantly, in the past 20 years, elephant populations in Timbavati have increased by 400% and rhinos by 500%. A rough, back-of-a-matchbox calculation of current densities of those two species reveals that, when compared to Kruger, Timbavati hosts many times the number of elephants and rhinos per 1,000 hectares (I am unable to the reveal the precise figure, for security reasons). There are probably reasons associated with specific veld types and permanent water availability, or possibly even local migrations, at the time of year when the count occurs.

Costs to manage Timbavati

Timbavati currently requires about R20 million per year to manage the reserve. Almost 40% of that is spent on anti-poaching security (up from 15% two years ago). The security cost is expected to rise significantly in coming years as increasingly determined and well-resourced crime syndicates focus on the last remaining honey pots.

Timbavati is a privately-owned game reserve and therefore cannot rely on donors or taxpayers to fund its costs. The above annual cost is currently funded as follows:

♦ 61% by trophy hunting revenue

♦ 17% by tourism visitors (currently at R215 per visit)

♦ 22% by landowner levies

Poaching in Timbavati

As mentioned earlier, Timbavati has experienced zero poaching incidents in the past 18 months. For illustrative purposes only, let’s assume that Timbavati did not have such a strong management team, or that the necessary funding to control poaching was not available, and therefore suffered the same ratio of rhino poaching as its Kruger neighbor. Bearing in mind the relative areas under conservation and Kruger’s loss of 662 rhinos in 2016, Timbavati could conceivably have suffered the loss of 18 rhinos to poaching. If I factor in the relative density of rhinos in Timbavati, this figure balloons to a figure I can’t reveal due to security concerns. This potential loss of even 18 rhinos to poaching is in stark contrast to the one rhino that actually was trophy hunted in Timbavati in 2016.

Again, this is a back-of-a-matchbox calculation and not the stuff of headlines or bold claims, but it does provide necessary context to the debate.

Social media reaction by various Timbavati lodges in reaction to the article in question. Note that these are not adverts. ©Makanyi

Trophy hunting versus tourism: the hard facts

The numbers:

♦ Timbavati attracts approximately 24,000 photographic tourist visits to the reserve per annum, compared to 46 trophy hunters who will hunt 81 animals during the coming year (not the thousands claimed by the activists);

♦ The average trophy hunter in Timbavati brings in about 1,800 times the revenue to the reserve coffers compared to the average photographic tourist;

♦ Currently the revenue from trophy hunting to fund reserve management and security amounts to 3.6 times that of the tourism contribution. More on how this model has to change further on.

A full comparison of trophy hunting to tourism is extremely complex, and here are just two qualitative factors to consider:

♦ Tourism generates more jobs and skills advancement than hunting, and is therefore more sustainable as an economic model acceptable to the all-important local communities, and to human social evolution;

♦ Hunting has a lower physical environmental footprint – buildings, roads, vehicles, power, water, sanitation, etc.

On the matter of culling

Culling is an integral aspect to game reserve management, even for an area the size of the Kruger National Park. The vast majority of the offtake figures applied for by the four game reserves in question relates specifically to the culling of impalas.

Many well-known game reserves in South Africa that market themselves as being free of trophy hunting take part in culling and/or live capture exercises. This is an inconvenient truth that is seldom discussed openly. Perhaps it’s time for the naked truth?

Comparing Timbavati and Sabi Sand revenue models

The Sabi Sand Game Reserve is a renowned safari mecca not far south of Timbavati and is host to some of this country’s top safari brands, including Londolozi, Singita and Mala Mala. They too used to derive revenue from trophy hunting, until the density and price tag of lodges was sufficient to switch entirely to funding from tourism. To this day, Sabi Sand Wildtuin management meetings host active debate about the use of trophy hunting to meet costs, but thankfully the ‘no’ vote seems to prevail.

Timbavati seems to be on that same journey, and it is my fervent hope that they achieve the same end-goal.

Revenue comparison between Timbavati and the Sabi Sands, two similarly-sized game reserves:

♦ Sabi Sand: 716 beds at a price tag of R4,000 – R23,000 per person per night

♦ Timbavati: 259 beds at a price tag of R2,000 – R11,000 per person per night

In a nutshell, Sabi Sand generates several times the tourism revenue of Timbavati because it has more beds and attracts a higher price tag, and is therefore able to generate sufficient management funding without the need for trophy hunting.

elephant

Social media reaction by various Timbavati lodges in reaction to the article in question. Note that these are not adverts. ©Umlani Bushcamp

The solution

In simple terms, the only solution is to build up tourism revenue for Timbavati to the extent that trophy hunting is no longer required, as has been achieved by Sabi Sand. Juxtapose that end goal with the current activist campaign to boycott Timbavati lodges, and the likely consequence of trophy hunting further entrenching itself.

Based on current costs and extensive data made available by some of the Timbavati lodges and by Timbavati reserve management (two separate bodies), the following:

♦ Timbavati lodges would need to raise tourism levies by a factor of almost five times the current revenue. This could be done by a combination of more lodges/beds, and by increasing the conservation levy per visit.

♦ Too many lodges/beds would surely ruin what is a sought-after, low-density safari experience. Timbavati currently enjoys 24,000 visits per annum – a revised 110,000 visits seems very high for this particular area. Lodges cannot for logistical reasons operate at extremely high occupancies, and most Timbavati lodges already operate at almost 60% average occupancy for the year. Therefore, this solution in effect boils down to the building of four to five times as many lodges/beds as to what currently exists.

♦ Increasing the conservation levy from the current R215 to R985 per visit – more than double that being charged by the more populous Sabi Sand if one assumes a 3 day visit.

Right now, the Timbavati lodge owners are engaged in this debate and actively negotiating with Timbavati reserve management for a new model that could conceivably result in a reduced dependency on trophy hunting to fund the reserve. Note though that most lodges have very little say in these matters, as not only are many of them simply tenants, but they are also not mandated to make reserve management decisions.

This solution will I would imagine require years to implement – and in the meantime Timbavati reserve management requires funding to continue their work.

Timbavati management

I first met Timbavati chief warden Bryan Havemann in mid-2016 when I cycled through Timbavati as part of a fundraising exercise to combat poaching. During a brief discussion, he asked if I was prepared to meet with him to discuss how best to communicate the realities of sustainable utilisation to members of the public. In February this year, he again contacted me and we arranged that I would visit his bushveld office during the time when I had planned to visit several lodges in the reserve. Two days before my visit this social media storm broke cover, and so what was going to be a casual discussion turned into an inquisition from my side as to what was really going on.

Let me be frank. I am impressed with the man, with the research-based adaptive strategy that has been implemented and what has been achieved. I have serious misgivings about their trophy hunting dependency and have communicated that in no uncertain terms to Havemann, and to a broader body of his colleagues.

But I also accept that my perspective is that of a largely desk-bound urban person. To cut to the core, Timbavati’s track record speaks for itself. I have no doubt that the management team will continue to apply themselves totally to whatever needs to be done to keep Timbavati safe from the wildlife trafficking criminals that are operating with seeming impunity elsewhere. Reality suggests that it’s unlikely that the zero-poaching score card will prevail indefinitely, but hopefully the Timbavati team will react to incidents with the precision and dedication displayed so far.

Final thoughts

Trophy hunting is a colonial era industry that celebrates killing animals for fun and ego. Surely this industry no longer has a place in Africa if there are suitable alternatives for conservation funding?  

Timbavati does have an alternative, and it’s now time to evolve their funding model by increasing the conservation levies paid by tourists and eventually doing away with trophy hunting. I hope that tourists will accept this increase in price and feel proud at being part of the solution.

The journey is not a linear one – game reserve management teams all over Africa face daily realities that cannot be whisked away by a fit of keyboard warrior rage, or advice such as ‘put all the animals somewhere safe’. And activist thuggery is not the way forward either, where fake reporting, instant utopian solutions, and emotional bulldozing dominates discussion, and reasonable experienced voices are drowned out.

I, for one, choose fact over fiction, and practical workable solutions over keyboard hype. I hope fervently that enough of you agree with me to help evolve Timbavati and others from dependence on trophy hunting to tourism for that much-needed management and anti-poaching revenue. After all, Sabi Sand was afforded that freedom.

And above all, I ask that each of you go on safari somewhere in Africa, as soon as possible. And then go again.

Respect. Keep the passion. A luta continua!

~ Simon

Simon Espley

Simon Espley is an African of the digital tribe, a chartered accountant and CEO of Africa Geographic. His travels in Africa are in search of wilderness, real people with interesting stories and elusive birds. He lives in Cape Town with his wife Lizz and 2 Jack Russells, and when not travelling or working he will be on his mountain bike somewhere out there. His motto is "Live for now, have fun, be good, tread lightly and respect others. And embrace change". The views expressed in his posts are his own. Connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

  • Nina Scott

    Excellent article, really informative, hard hitting and setting the record straight. Well done.

    • Simon Espley

      Thanks Nina! Tough topic for me, but we have to find practical ways to address this issue. Sadly we now live in a world where fake headlines are taken seriously and so many of these discussions take place in the form of emotional rollercoasters.

  • Viv McFarlane

    Thank you for setting the record straight. Very informative article!

  • Jean-Francois Rolland

    Thank you for this article. I am French and I have been living in Africa for more than 20 years. I have visited many reserves and I have to say that the South African parks, both national and private, are definitely the best run nature reserves in Africa, with the Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands and the Timbavati leading the way.

    I have to say that when I read the original article on the Conservation Action Trust website I was pretty shocked. Initially I was swept along with the drama and the sensationalist atmosphere of the article (and for this I am quite embarrassed) as now I realize the truth! I think the original article by Don Pinnock which I read on http://www.conservationaction.co.za was extremely aggressive and now that I read the facts, hugely incorrect. This kind of reporting is unprofessional and irresponsible, in-fact its very bad journalism. I salute the Timbavati in their incredible achievements in wildlife protection, it’s remarkable that they have lost so few rhinos. I hope that the Timbavati will continue to mature in its role as a conservation leader and to evolve with the trends and changes in the world of conservation and sustainability. As we say in French “Paris ne s’est pas fait en un jour”!

  • Just querying the maths at one point.
    You wrote “The average trophy hunter in Timbavati brings in about 1,800 times the
    revenue to the reserve coffers compared to the average photographic
    tourist”. Earlier you stated that the reserve receives R215 ($16) per tourist visit. So a hunter brings in R387,000 ($28,000) ?

    Now, I’ve been on a lot of Safaris in East Africa and it costs us around $8000 excluding flights from the UK for 10 nights for two people. So that’s $4000 each. Are you really saying I can stay at Timbavati for $16 a night? Book me in for three months please.

    • Marshy

      ?? Your comment makes no sense.

    • Simon Espley

      Good afternoon Chris. Tourists pay a conservation levy of R215 per visit to the reserve. This is not linked to what they pay to stay at the lodge, which as you can see in my article costs between R2,000 and R11,000 per night. So no you won;t be able to stya at Timbavati for $16. The point of that part of my article being that the R215 per visit is not nearly sufficient.

    • Ann Marie

      The levy is not the same as the nightly rate. But Simon, his first paragraph on the math would imply that a hunter brings in $28,000 of levy monies. I believe that number is off, correct?

  • Belinda Little

    Wow this is very interesting!! Thank you Simon for making it all so clear. The Timbavati are obviously doing an incredible job in anti-poaching, I wish I knew more about this before ‘mouthing-off” about them….

  • JA Malone

    The “so-called” juicy story, actually investigative journalism, has paved the way for a very public discussion of this issue. There has been no hysteria, simply a significant response to the possible hunt of a rare tusker, and that wildlife wandering in from an unfenced area may be admired …or killed…depending on the day and season. There are another 34 elephants on this permit, along with many other wildlife species. Not many tourists know that…but they are finding out. To drill down, this article appears to sit on the fence but gets off it several times. It accuses Conservation Action of manipulating a document, a rather serious allegation and no evidence is offered. However let’s look at the protocol. It does indeed say no ‘iconic ‘ tusker named and collared can be targeted. But a 50 year-old bull with “limitless” weight tusks can be, and by definition is, any one of a) a big bull, b) an emerging tusker or c) super tusker. Slippery wording indeed. Interesting too how poachers and hunters discuss the weight and beauty of tusks in exactly the same way. Mr. Havemaan may well be a fine man, but he is unaware of the critical role mature bulls play within the population, and to suggest they are old, ailing and dispensable is just plain wrong. What tourists now would like to see is the area lodges collectively vocally and publicly respond to the killing of “trophy” wildlife for fun. We do not wish to see them lose business and wildlife to suffer more because we are uneasy about the situation. We do notice all of their ads on this page by the way.
    Independent audits vs reserve or government statements show hunt revenues everywhere are considerably less than ecotourism, and do not as hunters routinely claim benefit either the community or conservation. The figures here suggest though the situation is dramatically different at Timbavati…maybe, but can we have an independent audit please. Finally, will point out culling in the Kruger has been replaced by more natural ways of getting animals to move through areas. The fact is elephants, all elephants who range across African states are endangered. Poaching has escalated in the Kruger, that will continue, and you can be sure hunting in Timbavati is not going to protect elephants from that. The issues and controversy surrounding the Timbavati mix of tourism and trophy hunting are not new. Awareness of it is, and that is a good thing.

    • Simon Espley

      Hello JA Malone. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and repeating / confirming much of my post. You have also confirmed that the headline used in said post was not accurate, although unlike you, I did not publicly out CAT. A tad confused by your defensive tone, but each to his own. Note that staff at lodges have been treated to hysterical and abusive emails and social posts, so you are incorrect in that aspect. Keep the passion.

      • JA Malone

        Hello Simon. Here is where we disagree. The minutes of the meeting listing a super tusker was not manipulated. You have accepted a great deal of what you have been told at face value. But of course yours is an opinion piece, not journalism. The reserve protocol is poorly worded and can define a big bull, an emerging tusker or super tusker. A 50 year old tusker is not old. There is no mass hysteria. There are people who were not aware the area supports a mix of tourism and hunting and now are. No one has called for a boycott of lodges,yet. I am sure you enjoyed your stay there and many more will in future. Wildlife do need tourists in our humancentric world, profit-driven world. But these lodges must support a full ban on trophy hunting in this area. Your stated wish that elephants in area or other wildlife were not hunted tends to waiver with the rationale of the reserve. I will always passionately defend wildlife, thanks, and respect those who probe the reality of a situation as every good journalist should. If we agree that trophy hunting should stop in Timbavati, I say it should and can be now and not some distant future season.

        • Simon Espley

          1. Super Tusker does not appear in any shape or form on the APNR management minutes regarding the offtake application. I have the minutes in my possession.
          2. I have confirmation in writing from the authorities that govern offtake permits that no 100 Pounder will be hunted. That’s third party evidence.
          3. Search Google and Facebook using relevant hashtags and search terms to prove yourself incorrect about hysteria and boycott threats. Also visit John Varty’s FB page and scroll till you find the relevant posts – which will reveal both boycotts and hysteria. He is just one such high profile person who took up the cudgel. Then visit the FB pages of Timbavati and of the lodges. Prove yourself incorrect.
          4. Absolutely I always enjoy my stays in the bush. I travel many times per year, to many places, on differing missions.
          5. Again we are not that far apart in views, but it would seem that you hold a candle for CAT and or the journalist in question.

          Again, thanks for your thoughts.

          • JA Malone

            Minutes of November 10 2016 list one ‘trophy bull (50< with unlimited tusk size). I think you agree by what is said above that is, could be definition of super tusker. Or an emerging super tusker. Or one very big mature bull. Any of them. All of them. So it is wording that leaves it wide open. Is a super tusker a trophy bull? You can say not, and say you did not give permission to hunt one but the other. Yet by definition they are or can be one and same. The trophy bull on that permit was certainly believed to a super tusker by people involved, including lodge owners who challenged it. I don't hold a candle as you say, but do not agree with this attack on this journalist. It is not as someone claims here fake news. Anyway am glad to see all and any coverage of the situation because as you say and do agree the wider issue is trophy hunting at all, in this case outside a protected park and in a tourist area.

          • Simon Espley

            Again, 100 Pounders specifically excluded. What you believe is up to you, but perhaps best you start distinguishing fact from fiction. The CAT post was pure fiction.

          • JA Malone

            Excluded from unlimited weight….do they weigh tusks before shooting?

          • Simon Espley

            Hi Judy Malone. Could you explain how you came across the minutes of the APNR meeting? Standing by.

        • Greg

          Not sure who you are or your background but you are obviously more experienced than the Chief Warden of Timbavati. I am pretty sure Mr Havemaan is fully aware of the role mature bulls play having probably spent his whole life around elephants. Did you not read the article? Are you going to stump up with the R12 Million shortfall yourself or do you think it will just fall from the sky?

          • Ana Zinger

            From ElephantVoices:

            There has been a lot of outrage expressed on Facebook about the plan by Timbavati Reserve in South Africa to put a great tusker on their quota to be hunted. There are a whole slew of reasons why a great tusker should not be killed, but we want to focus on just one.

            Joyce is the lead author on a chapter entitled “Longevity, Competition and Musth: A Long-Term Perspective on Male Reproductive Strategies” that was published in 2011 in the book, “The Amboseli Elephants: A Long-Term Perspective on a Long-Lived Mammal” (http://tinyurl.com/l72ocgt). The chapter is based on over 40 years of data on individually known male elephants.

            Hunters like to claim that older males with the heaviest ivory are past their reproductive years and are, therefore, no longer contributing their genes to the next generation. This is simply false.

            In Amboseli – the world longest elephant dataset – a male’s peak reproductive years are between 40 and 50 years of age. But even at age 60 a male is as successful as a male of age 35. They are still coming into musth and are still contributing to the next generation when they are over 60 years old. We wrote: “The longer a male survives and the older he becomes, the more successful he has the opportunity to be.” At the time of writing the chapter, Bad Bull and Dionysus were Amboseli’s two longest living males on record. Bad Bull was last observed in musth at age 63 and Dionysus was last seen in musth at 62. Both males died of wounds inflicted by people, so we don’t know how much longer they would have continued to come into musth and reproduce. Our model indicated that these two males would have fathered more calves in their lifetimes than any other males in the population – an estimated 62 and 51, respectively.

            Very few male elephants live to the age when they can begin to reproduce. In Amboseli, a population that has seen very little poaching, 76% of males die before reaching the age of 40. Of those who survive to reproduce, very few carry genes for the enormous tusks upon which we – humans – seem to place so much value.

            To be blunt, if maintaining large tusks is a consideration, killing so-called “tuskers” is short-sighted and, quite frankly, stupid.

            #worthmorealive Amboseli Trust for Elephants

          • Jake

            Did you even read the article, Ana? There is no super tusker hunt. I fear for people sometimes.

          • Simon Espley

            Hi Ana, thanks. I agree totally with the above author’s notes. If you had read the above article you would know that. It’s time for those of us who want to bring about change (getting rid of trophy hunting being one) to focus on fact rather than activist thuggery. We cannot win this battle by turning in circles and refusing to see the facts. Keep the passion.

          • Greg

            Thanks Ana. Judy sounds like a very smart person and well researched. I just don’t believe a tusker was ever going to be targeted based on what I have read.

            On this i dont think there is ever going to be agreement so lets look at the overall picture and i think the key phrase in your response is “In Amboseli, a population that has seen very little poaching”

            They don’t need R8 Million per year to combat poaching or maybe they have alternative incomes sources (to trophy hunting) for this (or maybe not).

            Lets take all emotion out of this – How it currently stands Timbavati needs R20M per year to run, R12M comes from Trophy hunting. Of the R20M R8M is needed for anti poaching, take away Trophy hunting you are left with R8M so you can choose anti-poaching or running the park.
            So lets Ban trophy hunitng tomorrow – no anti-poaching = all elephants (including tuskers) and Rhinos and everything else gets taken out.

            Wow we wont have to worry about the strength of the gene pool any longer as there wont be any elephants left.

            Sorry if this sounds sarcastic but unfortunately the world we live in is not black and white, there is never going to be a perfect solution that makes everyone happy. The people doing the real work just need to be allowed to make the best decisions that they can, they will sometimes get things wrong but i believe more often than nott they will get things right (the current results back that up). Like Belinda says African solutions for Africa, I assume Judy is African but when it comes to making decisions in a war zone (and it is a war zone) I back the leader at the front of the battleground, in this case Mr Havemaan.

            I don’t have any solutions to add myself as i am not an expert but i do believe we need to listen to the guys giving their lives to fight for these animals rather than “experts” sitting in air-conditioned offices in a university somewhere.

            My prediction is the social media sheep will ultimately win and then move on to their next crusade while the real warriors like Mr Havemaan continue the fight with less and less resources risking their lives daily in a fight they know they will ultimately lose in the end. I have the utmost respect for these men and women.

          • Jamie Smith

            Ana, it looks like you have not read the article. The article is anti-hunting. But it’s also anti the kind of activism that promotes lies as a tool to pressurise and bully.

        • Belinda Little

          African Solutions for Africa – Where are you from? Do you live in Africa? Are you a qualified conservationist in African flora and fauna? Are you an expert on South Africa?

    • Jamie Smith

      CAT troll?

    • Judy Malone, who posted the above comment, has deleted her replies below, in reaction to being questioned about the source of her information.

      • Belinda Little

        That’s interesting. I have had contact with one of the lodge owners, who I do business with as a tour operator. I filled him in on this comment stream on AG and he told me that Judy Malone had ontacted him on a private email address some weeks ago claiming to be a journalist of some sort in Canada. The private address she contacted him on was one that he had given to Don Pinnock during the question period leading up to the original article. I would bet the source of her information was none other than Don Pinnock himself. #fakenews #notajournalist

  • Jake

    I think Conservation Action Trust often distorts facts to suit their own agenda, unfortunately. There’s nothing wrong with having an opinion, but distorting facts to fit that opinion is irresponsible journalism. Sounds like CAT is in desperate need of reform.

  • Mark

    Great article Simon – may it just be clear to all that this policy is also run as judiciously and effectively in the surrounding APNR including the Klaserie and Balule Nature reserves. Where without planned hunts I doubt we would achieve the level of conservation we can currently manage or afford. I don’t think the general public realises how much it costs to protect the fences of these adjoining reserves from poachers which ultimately form the western boundary of central Kruger.

  • Graeme Pollock

    Far cry from your usual anti use propaganda, refreshing to say the least and trust you posted this to all John Varty’s blogs on this topic that you added your commentary to. African Geographic may just be able to pull itself out of the fake news category after all .

    • Simon Espley

      LOL, Graeme we know we have a balanced editorial strategy when we get it in the ear from all sides. One week we are classified as ‘pro hunting’ and the next we are ‘bunny-hugging anti-hunters’. Swings and roundabouts. Reality is we seek the truth, no matter what you or any other faction want to see 😉

      • Graeme Pollock

        Sorry Simon , African Geographic lost all credibility when it ran stories by Michler on the Botswana hunting situation , if you are as honest as you would like us to believe you would set the record straight as to why Botswana closed hunting and what researchers and the tourism industry voted ?which begs the question why there has been no follow up to the situation in wildlife numbers in the old concessions , communities. Had AG sought the truth as you say maybe it would still be in print.

        • Simon Espley

          And yet hear we are, many times larger than we were in print, and growing every year. And still irritating you. And Ian Michler has done tremendous work shining a spotlight on the dark world of canned lions and lion petting. Graeme you should understand for your own good that AG is not here to represent your opinion, or anybody else’s opinion. We are here to educate the world about Africa. Maybe it’s time for you to move on from whatever article/s pissed you off? Either way, you won’t find any sympathy here with old war stories. If you have facts and figures to back up your beliefs about why Botswana stopped hunting then feel free to contact me on ceo@africageographic.com. Cheers

          • Graeme Pollock

            Simon , one thing we both know you are well traveled and informed, so I dont buy into your suggestion that I supply you with information on the closure of conservation hunting in Botswana, the minutes of the Tourism Pitso held in Gaborone where the entire tourism industry and wildlife biologists voted AGAINST the ban , the ban expired in 2015 as the statutory instrument used to close conservation hunting is valid for one year and requires a vote by Parliament to continue which as you know has not occurred. The problem here is logic / rule of law / fairness which is now a global problem perpetuated by people like yourself, you cannot do it in one sphere and expect different in another, in other words ignore injustice in conservation and then scratch your head why Zuma carries in like he does , you and GA contribute to this state of discourse. SCI is the same in the USA they are failing conservation as much as those who should know better are failing conservation because they stick to an opinion irrespective of the consequences to wildlife. Ian Mitchler wrote endless lies about hunting in Botswana and we challenged him to provide the hunting assoc with evidence so we could take action he did not and continued with his misinformation to his own agenda. If you see a crime you should report it , why did he not ? , either he is lying are he is complicit which is like watching a brutal rape and doing nothing . We as hunters did more to stop canned lion killing than his movie, please keep history truthful, against pressure ethical hunters changed the canned lion situation, the industry ignored Mitchler with the disdain due.

          • Simon Espley

            Hi Graeme. We don’t peddle in gripes and pissing contests as to who does most for conservation. I believe that all parties you mention play a role and each have their shortcomings. If you have an issue with Ian perhaps invite him for a cup of coffee and chat? He is always open to discussions – but note that he is a formidable debator with an excellent resource of facts and figures. My invitation stands. Go well

          • Graeme Pollock

            He was requested to meet with us for over 5 years , the invitation was open and still stands but of all people you should know the quickest way to kill a good story is the truth . As against his biased and non peer reviewed data base ours emanates from credible and published biologists. But I see your old true self is coming back so not much use discussing something you refuse to acknowledge ( see the Zuma paradigm). By the way you participated in many of the threads about this Cecil of a Elephant where Duane Jacobs ( pro use activist ) consistently advised that there was no 100 pound tag . Good to see you waited long enough to claim that pronunciation.

  • Rienie Denner

    What disturbs me the most is to see how far and deep ARAs and anti’s have already infiltrated that even conservation platforms like Africa Geographic which should supposedly be neutral, already start preaching ARA dogma. IMHO, this is totally inexcusable!!! Given the impact these platforms have on shaping public opinion, that’s totally unacceptable to allow an ignorant wimp that has no understanding of conservation hunting and wildlife management to air his opinion here, while the truth, the benefits held by conservation hunting for species and communities in Africa are muted, thereby once again presenting a one-sided, skewed and biased argument founded on shameless lies and falsehood in the superlative degree. Bad choice Africa Geographic!!! Gross disappointment!!! Once more, false views based on gross misrepresentation of the real facts, blatant lies aimed at brainwashing society!!!

  • Earline

    Really enjoyed this informative and unbiased article. Thank you!

  • HoggerNaut

    So what you want to do is make the Timbavati to expensive for local people to enjoy.
    Please go do a study on feed lots and how your local supermarket kills and gets the beef you so conveniently buy there. Way to much to say from behind a keyboard (even though you say fact over fiction) and camera lenses. Speak to actual wardens in the Kruger that has been there for longer than 10 years ie: have experience and ask them their opinion on this. Its; and I use the not to offend bunny huggers that cause nature way more damage than what ethical hunters do. Game numbers are growing in SA, and their growing on private land where hunting takes place. So go and build more beds in the Timbavati, Im sure the animals wont mind more buildings in their backyard.

    • Simon Espley

      So it costs R2,000 to R11,000 per person per night to stay at Timbervati. An increase in the conservation levy from R215 to R985 per stay means an increase of R385 per person per average stay (3 nights). Do you believe that this will make a material difference to the above lodge prices? Can SAfricans afford this either way?

  • Mike Sebastian

    Excellent article – thanks for shining a light into the dark corners most of us never get to see

Jacis Lodges
Black Rhino
Africa Geographic