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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Animals

South Africa used to teem with wild animals, today you only see herds of animals if you go to one of our famous game reserves, and even then not in the numbers that were.  Charles Barter wrote the following in 1852: "game in thousands, aye, and tens of thousands, spread over the plains or marching in almost endless line across it's surface".James Chapman writing about the Berg in 1849: "at certain times of the day the plains for miles around had somewhat the appearance of a living ocean, the tumultuous waves being formed by the various herds crossing and re-crossing each other in every direction".Today no more. Springbok were especially known for their huge numbers in South Africa. One such "Trek" was estimated by Davie and Gibbons in area around Prieska, In the Free State Province, at about one hundred million Springbok! This was as late as 1888.


But remnants of these once mighty herds still remain in the Drakensberg Wilderness area. Some of the animals you could see in the Berg are; Reedbuck, mountain reedbuck, black wildebeest, grey rhebok, eland, grey duiker, red hartebeest, and oribi. Other animals are baboons, vervet monkeys, various kinds of wild cats, eg. caracal ,porcupines, otters, and various kinds of rodents. Insects to numerous to list. The list given here is far from complete but it gives an idea of what can still be seen in the Berg. All of these animals have something special about them (as do all living creatures), but I'm going to concentrate on the eland the biggest animal in the Berg. 


The eland, Taurotragus oryx is between 150cm and 180cm (+- 6 feet) at the shoulder and the males can way up to 800 kg. Eland can be described as handsome animals, they have a buff colouring that turns grey as they get older. Both males and females have fairly long spiral horns.  The male has long, hanging dewlaps. The eland is not an aggressive animal. In the wild the eland is alert and nervous, with excellent eyesight and hearing, he will have seen and heard you long before you hear it. The Zulu name for eland is Impofu.


Over the years several attempts have been made to domesticate this proud animal, fortunately without success. Although the animal is easily tamed and even large bulls are very docile, the gene pool quickly deteriorates in small captive herds.  


Quote: And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: Livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals,each according to its kind," And it was so. ....... And God saw that it was good.
Genesis. 1: 24 - 25.










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