TGA – Overpopulation of Elephant

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Post Date: 18 May 2021

TGA’s Daily Dose of Common Sense.


‘WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT’ is NOT what the man-in-the-street calls “conservation”. The word ‘conservation’, and the practice of ‘conservation’, is something quite different to ‘wildlife management’. They are not synonyms of the same thing. The word ‘conservation’ has a very specific meaning in the science of wildlife management. Conservation is not a generalisation that covers a multitude of sins as most people seem to believe today. Nevertheless, it is pertinent to point out that because man does not have (or rather, does not ‘use’,) a common wildlife vocabulary, confusion reigns in the wildlife arena for this very reason. When different people ascribe different meanings to the words, to the concepts and to the practices of wildlife management, they speak to each other in foreign languages.  And, as long as that state of affairs pertains, there is no possibility that mankind can ever reach responsible consensus in any public wildlife management debate.

Today, I want to explain, in fundamental terms and in layman’s language, just what ‘wildlife management” is all about.

Very simply, “wildlife management” is the action that man takes to achieve a man-desired objective. There is nothing ‘natural’ about wildlife management. It is:-

  • Man conceived;
  • Man designed;
  • Man implemented;
  • Man manipulated; and
  • Man is the principle beneficiary.

Why is man the principle beneficiary? Man is the principle beneficiary because it is man’s objective that is achieved!

People who do not understand these fundamental wildlife management principles should not be allowed to enter the wildlife management debate. They do more harm than good to the public perception of all that which represents the science of wildlife management. They are persona non-grata people. In simple terms I identify them as being CODE RED. Which means, beware of them, they are dangerous people and they are poison to everything that they touch and or talk about.


TGA’s Daily Dose of Common Sense.


One does not have to be a highly qualified scientist to understand the basic principles of wildlife management. Wildlife management is actually more common sense than anything else.

One of the simplest and most important things to understand about wildlife management is that it can only be applied to individual animal populations, one at a time. It cannot be applied to an animal species as a whole.

Definition: SPECIES: A species can be defined as a group of animals or plants that share the same physical (and, in the case of animals, behavioural) characteristics and which, when they breed, produce fertile off-spring with the same physical (and in the case of animals, behavioural) characteristics.

Definition: POPULATION: A population can be defined as a group of animals of the same species the individuals of which interact with each other on a daily basis and they breed ONLY with other animals in the same group.

Example: The African elephant (the species) occur in 150 different populations right across the length and breadth of the species’ range, from the mountains of Ethiopia in the north to flat and arid Botswana and Namibia in the south. They live in a wide variety of very different habitats: from swamplands and evergreen montane forests, to grassland savannahs and deciduous woodlands, and in very dry deserts.

Interaction with man: Elephant interaction with man is very different wherever man and elephants come together. No two elephant/man circumstance is the same.  

Management: Each population of elephants, therefore, lives in a totally different natural environment to any other elephant population, and their interaction with man is equally variable. Each population’s management needs, therefore, is unique to itself. And this same criterion applies to any and all other animal species.

All these factors combined, therefore, make it impossible for man to manage ‘a species’. Realistically, a species can only be managed at the individual population level.  So why bother to even talk about ‘endangered species’. That terminology only confuses the man-in-the street. And, in point of fact, from a wildlife management point of view, there is no such thing as an “an endangered species”.

TGA’s Daily Dose of Common Sense.


Natural ecosystem living resource management involves manipulating the relationship between the soil, the plants and the animals to achieve a state of environmental homeostasis between and within these three factors; and the achievement of the ultimate goal in a national park, the maintenance of biological diversity.

On private land, management can involve manipulating the relationship between the soil, the plants and the animals to establish the optimum production of one species – e.g. the white rhinoceros; and the production of rhino horn for the overseas market.

Both these objectives are valid objectives in the practice of wildlife management.

Man’s wildlife management priorities are:

Number ONE priority – THE SOIL

Man’s Number One priority concerns the protection and wise use of the soil – because without soil no plants can grow, and without plants there would be no animals.

Number TWO priority – THE PLANTS

Man’s second wildlife management priority is for the protection and wise use of plants. Plants appear second in importance on the priority list – BEFORE ANIMALS – because plants are the only energy (food) producers on planet earth. Therefore, if there were no plants (I reiterate) there would be no animals.

Number THREE priority – THE ANIMALS

Animals appear LAST on this list of priority considerations not because animals are UN-IMPORTANT but because they are LESS-Important than either the soil or the PLANTS.

When trying to grasp the importance of the relevant levels of management in a wildlife debate, the general public would do well to remember this hierarchical list of management priorities. The soil is more important than the plants and the plants are more important than the elephants. So, if by not culling an elephant population you will damage the habitat, do you cull the elephants? YES YOU DO!

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