Ron Thomson, a big game hunter who claims he has shot at least 5,000 elephants, 50 hippos, and 60 lions says he is “totally unrepentant,” even with such a high kill count. He claims that he didn’t hunt for sport, saying that his actions were for population management. However, animal rights groups claim his “management culling” is just a cover.
Thomson, 77, spent nearly six decades working for the national parks system in Africa, according to a report by the Daily Mail. He says that his hunting was meant to keep various animal populations under control.
Animal rights campaigners believe otherwise, pointing to the steep decline in elephant numbers as a sign that Thomson may not be telling the truth. Eduardo Gonçalves, the founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, says that “management culling” is a term often used to disguise trophy hunting activities.
Thomson was forced to step forward about his record after the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting released a report branding Thomson as the most prolific elephant killer in the world.
On his website, Thomson claims that he has killed 800 buffalo, 50 hippos, 40 leopards, and 60 lions along with the thousands of elephants.
Additionally, that total does not include any kills made while he was serving as the leader of a culling team. The group, during the 1970s, shot 2,500 elephants along with 300 hippos in Gonarezhou National Park.
During an interview, Thomson said, “I’m totally unrepentant, a hundred – ten thousand – times over for any of the hunting I’ve done because that’s not the problem.”
“The problem is we’ve got a bunch of so-called experts from the West telling us what to do,” he continued. “I’m a trained university ecologist – I must surely know something about this.”
At one point during his career, Thomson was the game warden at Hwange National Park. He was also a professional hunter for three years.
While Thomson no longer hunts routinely, he does write books that chronicle his experiences. On his website, he self-describes as “one of the most experienced African big game hunters alive today.”
On his YouTube channel, Thomson argues that elephants are not actually an endangered species, claiming that southern African wildlife parks have “ten to 20 times more elephants” than the region can sustain and asserting that the massive creatures are actually destroying the environment.
He also claims that, without proper population management, the elephants could overrun the parks and even endanger other species.