The Kruger National Park is one of the most beautiful game parks in the world, in my opinion.
It’s roughly the size of Israel.
The documentary on which my following conversation with Ron Thomson is based, The Elephants of Kruger National Park, is an exploration of the ecological impact of elephants on the park.
Ron is a seasoned wildlife manager and presents a compelling account of the damage caused by the overpopulation of elephants, arguing that the excessive number of elephants is leading to significant habitat destruction, affecting biodiversity and gradually killing the entire park.
Elephants are majestic, but one has to put aside emotions and realise that Kruger has capacity for around 3500 elephants, says Ron.
Currently, best estimates are that Kruger has somewhere between 35,000 and 45,000 elephants.
This means that all life in Kruger, from trees to birds to animals, is being negatively impacted. For example, elephants are destroying trees faster than the trees are able to regrow, causing damaged habitats for many birds such as eagles. Sable (a type of antelope) are nearly non-existent in Kruger because of what elephants have done to their vegetation.
A summary of his documentary goes as follows.
- The overpopulation of elephants in Kruger is leading to significant habitat destruction and a decline in biodiversity.
- Elephants are causing extensive damage to the park’s vegetation, including mature trees like the umbrella thorn trees and Natal Mahogany trees, leading to their local extinction.
- The destruction of habitats by elephants is also impacting other animal species in the park, such as the Palm Swift and the Bush Buck.
- Comparison of the vegetation inside the Roan Antelope Exclosure and the damaged habitats outside highlights the impact of elephants on the park’s ecosystem.
- The Pafuri Riverine Forest, a crucial wildlife habitat in the park, is also under threat from elephants, particularly the ancient Baobab trees.
- Urgent action is needed from the South African National Parks Board Authority to address the issue of elephant overpopulation and preserve the park’s biodiversity.
Ron chatted to me about the above.
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