~ By pure chance I spotted this post when briefly logging in to reply to several private messages.
My current circumstances are such that regular participation in Safaritalk isn't feasible. I hope that by sometime in August that might change for the better.
Presumably those who posted comments in this thread are far more fully informed than I am, therefore their comments carry the weight which my thoughts lack.
What I say may well be frivolous and off the point, given that I have little more than a few tourist visits to Africa to shape my perceptions.
If I'd read this thread and the news article posted by @Game Warden anytime prior to several days ago, I'd have shaken my head in dismay at the thought of yet more culling.
Why? Because my instinctive reaction, shaped by any number of childhood experiences, has been to avoid any thought of ending animal life whenever and wherever possible.
As I told both @Peter Connan and @Bugs in private messages this week, I finished reading a memoir which I purchased in Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport in late January, while waiting to board a flight to Hong Kong.
By the late Bruce Bryden, it's titled “A Game Ranger Remembers”. Mr. Bryden served as the Chief Ranger in Kruger National Park for much of his professional career.
I mention the book because it's had an unexpectedly profound impact on my thinking, opening my limited perspective to consider hitherto unimaginable possibilities.
Granted, Mr. Bryden was writing about events twenty to forty years ago, yet a number of his points remain salient under present circunstances.
Among much other evidence adduced, he noted that there were long pre-existing game migration patterns for various larger wildlife species, from elephants downward in scale.
When human national boundaries were imposed on what had been unfenced range, longstanding migration patterns were severely disrupted.
The creation of Kruger National Park, including the extensive fencing along the South Africa – Mozambique border, ostensibly to deter poaching raids, had a drastic impact on ground-based wildlife mobility.
The book explains how such disruptions, even when very well-intended, had unanticipated yet inevitable side effects, including the build-up of larger animal species in excess of the Kruger National Park's carrying capacity.
Were trans-national parks to result in the removal of fencing, that might in part restore migration areas, but ongoing poaching and displacement of refugees limits the removal of such barriers.
Hence Mr. Bryden explained the how and the why of culling decisions, especially with regard to elephants, hippos and African buffalo.
When I first read it, I didn't know what to think. As much as anything I felt unsettled to read how the protectors of wildlife also served as their executioners.
Yet as the 373 page book went on, I gradually understood why the Kruger ranger staff felt that culling was essential in the long-term interests of the overall ecological balance of the park, including its many threatened species.
By no means am I a credible voice, lacking any expertise whatsoever. Therefore my private musings are no more than the maundering of a would-be nature lover.
What's best or what's right is beyond my ken. Yet “A Game Ranger Remembers” has persuaded me that there may be situations and factors which result in very tough decisions being made.
Kruger National Park doesn't exist in a vacuum, but is part of the greater Lowveld, with villages, farms, small cities and private game reserves around it, as well as national boundaries.
The build-up of larger species into what amounts to situational overpopulation is a deeply unfortunate consequence of the concomitant overpopulation of the surrounding area.
Wisdom is sorely needed, which is ever in short supply. Balancing assorted interests must be a daunting challenge for Kruger National Park's contemporary professional staff and rangers.
I'm grateful for the discussion in this thread about this vital topic.