Factcheck: Piers Morgan ‘b***ers up’ elephant hunting debate

TV presenter Piers Morgan ‘buggered up’ a chance to explain elephant management. While at the Good Morning Britain programme, he interviewed South African elephant hunter Ron Thomson. Now Thomson has lashed out at Morgan’s interview style.

“He had an opportunity to teach all the people of Great Britain the facts about elephant management, and he buggered it up by promoting himself,” says Thomson. “That’s all it amounted to.” 

Thomson is one of southern Africa’s most effective wild elephant managers, reducing populations in areas of high human-elephant conflict. Morgan attacked Thomson in the interview, saying several times that he believed Thomson ‘blazed away’ at elephants, and denying that Thomson’s approach was surgical and promoted conservation.

Thomson has shot around 5,000 problem elephants in his career, specialising in human-elephant conflict areas, and targeting crop-destroyers and man killers. Morgan says that Thomson has ‘blazed away’ at 5,000 of them. Thomson says: “I was accused of being the worst possible kind of trophy hunter.”

Morgan made a number of errors in his reporting. Among them, he says that the elephant is facing extinction. He reports that the elephant population globally has ‘plunged’ from 1.3m ‘globally’ to just 400,000. The truth is that the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) is now listed as Critically Endangered and the African savanna elephant (Loxodonta africana) as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. There are around 25,000 Asian elephants and they are also listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. He fails to acknowledge that there are many places in Africa where there are too many elephants and the local human population can no longer cope with them.

Morgan does not believe that Thomson shooting 5,000 elephants is a ‘valuable contribution’ to the lives of elephants’. “Your whole life and career has been in killing animals,” he tells Thomson, and, “It’s used as a pretext to allow trophy hunting.

“It’s the callous way you talk about this. These are great animals. They are great animals of the world.”

Morgan wants to see ‘repentance’ from elephant hunters. “Is there not a more humane way of talking about this?” he asks Thomson. 

Morgans suggests translocation of elephants. He does not explain who will pay for this or who will take on the spare elephants. Zoos around their world have already turned down offers from countries such as South Africa and Botswana to take on tens of thousands of animals. 

Thomson was hired to reduce the elephant population by around 40 animals a day. Morgan suggests that Thomson did this in order to hangs their heads on his wall. “Not on one single occasion have I shot a wild animal for a trophy,” says Thomson. “Never. not once.”

Thanks to SCI LHAS for supporting this article


Watch Ron Thompson criticise Piers Morgan:

Find out more about Ron and the True Green Alliance here

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