Elephants. Africa’s curse?

There’s Africa and there’s the rest of the world. Africa has the elephant; the rest of the world is the have-not. And yet the have-nots, with no real clue about our wildlife and the need to manage, conserve and protect it in a sustainable way, presume to dictate how we should do it.

We do not tell America how to manage their bison, deer and various other comparatively limited varieties of creatures. We do not interfere with the UK’s decisions on fox hunting or grouse shooting, trophy deer, or the management of their even fewer varieties of the animal kingdom. Ditto regarding Europe, Asia, and Australia.

And yet those very countries sit in ivory towers (inadvertent pun) and watch Africa with a jaundiced eye and assume the role of, “I know best.” Well, they don’t.

What prompted me to write this – and many journalists have often very succinctly penned the same message – was Botswana’s reaction to Germany wanting to ban the import of elephant trophies. Botswana suggested sending 20,000 elephants to Germany to see how it would cope with animals marauding crops, destroying any forests and thus the entire ecosystem, which is what happens when there is an excess of elephant. They can tear down 100-year-old trees just because they can, wreaking havoc.  An elephant needs 300-400 pounds of vegetation daily to survive. Their breeding rate doubles their numbers every decade.

To date, I have not seen any response from Germany.

I chose the hero picture from Divan Labuscagne (Divan Safaris) this month, piece, because in all the years I have been promoting hunting, this image spoke to me the most.

If you have ever watched up close the goings-on of an elephant herd, you will understand. If you have observed their extraordinary intelligence and sensory levels, you will know. In an educational experience we saw an elephant distinguish one hat from a bunch of our hats that were dumped on the floor, and bring it to each owner, matching the scent; something impossible to forget. Their thick hide is almost impenetrable, yet scratch them, and they can feel it.

You can identify with their innate compulsion for survival, their caring nature demonstrated when they pull youngsters out of mud pools. And almost uncanny is the well-documented haunting respect they show to dead members of their clan or herd, stopping by the remains of a recent carcass, or at a jumble of bleached bones from years gone by. Remember the vigil by the herd in the story of “The Elephant Whisperer”. This is no ordinary species.

Africa is the only continent, in particular southern Africa, where this megafauna still thrives, despite international interference.  I say despite, because southern Africa is simply not left to manage her own wildlife. We have international NGOs, well known and powerful that to raise millions, only to siphon off most of it for the people running their organizations. We have international financiers, banks, foundations, and governments too, who not only won’t support, but actively try sabotage travel to southern Africa, and won’t do business with us because of how we want to manage our animals.

The “Left” pulls on every heartstring, leverages the media, largely on their side, who conveniently omit facts and revels in sensationalism, fueling the left’s agenda. Have you ever read a newspaper article that gives credence to Africa’s successful wildlife management? I doubt it. These papers won’t publish any reasonable explanation.

The recent killing, “murdering” as was quoted, of some ‘Super Tuskers’ that ventured out of Kenya across an unmarked border into Tanzania, was manna from heaven for their media machine. It was a legal hunt and the Tanzanian outfitters were within their rights. Those are the facts.

So, I ask the Left:

If there are so few ‘Super Tuskers’ as you refer to them as, why not collar them? You have the money. It is a simple process, and a collar would identify them from a mile away and spare their lives. They would be safe and, unlike with lions where the collar can be difficult to see in their mane, an elephant collar is easily distinguishable.

Why are you not focusing on keeping these Super Tuskers in their safe sanctuary - the National Parks – and, in this recent case, in Kenya? Why would the elephant leave this park? Perhaps it is because of insufficient vegetation, or overpopulation. Perhaps they just want to find new ground with better vegetation. And that happens to be Tanzania next door, in a well-managed area where sustainable utilization results in a healthy balance.

Why not look after your ‘own animals’ instead of blaming others for not respecting your imposed rules? Why not come up with a plan to relocate them. Not just the 13 taken to England that now some NGO wants to move back to Kenya, the bastion of African bunny-hugging. No, I am talking the tens of thousands that need relocating from the likes of Botswana or Zimbabwe. What is your solution you on the Left? 

And let’s ask: What constitutes a Super Tusker? The CEO of Africa Geographic told me it’s when one of the tusks is over 100 pounds. So how does anyone accurately make that call? Very long tuskers are easy to distinguish, could be 120 pounds, but if you are looking at an elephant that is 97, 99 or 100 pounds it is impossible to judge with certainty. And if 99 pounds, is that magnificent creature now NOT a super tusker?

I have been publishing a hunting magazine for many years and am yet to find someone who can accurately assess the weight. At a PHASA (Professional Hunters Assoc. of South Africa) Fund Raiser 15 or more years back, the late Don Lindsay organized a raffle to guess the weight of a pair of tusks he had. ONE person in a group of professional hunters got the closest – not the exact weights, but the closest – despite being right there on display for all to walk up and touch!

The have-not-Left cleverly anthropomorphizes these incredible animals with accompanying their PR, misinforming their ignorant followers. Elephants, they write, are never shot, or hunted, they are murdered. If the Left truly wants the hunting industry to protect these animals, there needs to be a practical solution. Not media propaganda and a continual drumbeat against the one practice that has irrefutably proved over decades, to conserve not only this species but dozens of others across Africa. Or is their agenda simply a money-making racket for the organizers?

For the Right, I admit it is a mission, because the Left is winning the hearts, and when a mind is made up – it is difficult to have a change of heart. We just need people to talk, the media to publish facts. Give information that resonates. Explain carrying capacity, space constraints; the reality of vegetation degradation, showing particularly how, over time, the countryside in Botswana is being destroyed by excess elephants. Get those responsible for managing areas, large and small to speak up. Explain and discuss human wildlife conflict and what this means to the people trying to survive off the land.

What can be done to pull on heart strings? Write articles that stir up emotions. Show images that make people think. Really think. A photographer captured a vulture next to an emaciated, starving child in North Africa during famine decades back. No words. The picture did it all. Those of you who saw it will never forget it. That is what a powerful image can do. A grinning hunter sitting on top of a hunted African giant does not do it. There are other ways to celebrate a well-deserved hunt, and for that I have chosen what for me is one of the best trophy pictures I have seen.

It's complicated. It is sensitive. But it needs tackling. Otherwise, this Left onslaught will continue until every country in Africa ends up like Kenya, banning the sustainable utilization of the country’s own natural resources. Hunting will close, and the ultimate loser will be Africa’s wildlife.


Richard Lendrum


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Who are the African Dawn Outfitters?

The African Dawn Program is about promoting hunting in Africa, not just through what we publish, but with the outfitters’ cooperation in this program… and it is for your peace of mind.

International travel consumes two precious commodities – personal time and money. And when you are a hunter, things can get tricky when there are further considerations like rules, regulations, details and differences between each country and their species. It is important to have a good outfitter, and whether it is your next hunting safari, or your first one, there are many outfitters to choose from. In fact, there are over 500, so how do you find a reliable one, the one that is right for you?

To help you, we decided to promote and work with approximately 10% of this continent-wide group of outfitters. We have listed a limited number of an esteemed group of established and reputable African outfitters and they can be found in this Catalogue. To familiarize yourself with this list, we also offer monthly publications, and monthly trophy gallery posts (Trophies Fresh from the Veld). To ensure you receive these updates, sign up

If you are an agent looking for an outfitter to represent, you’ll be safe contacting one of these outfitters.

If you are researching for your next safari, be sure to contact any one of listed outfitters directly. It will support them and save you money by booking with them. Please tell them that it was by them being an African Dawn Member that contributed to the decision.

Our website has a detailed overview of them all, and you know where to contact me if you need to know anything more.

For now, just enjoy the read.

Richard Lendrum - Publisher African Hunting Gazette

[email protected]

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