The exotics dilemma

November 7, 2018
Much emphasis, and rightly so, is placed on the exotic plants, such as eucalypt and pine species, and their eradication in South Africa. However, we feel equally important are the free-ranging ungulates that are receiving little, or no, attention - such as Fallow Deer (Dama dama) and Barbary Sheep, or Aoudad, (Ammotragus lervia) in the Karoo. 


Barbary Sheep

We know of one population of Barbary Sheep to the north of Carnarvon in the SKA-Meerkat area that numbers in the hundreds and moves freely across several farms. These are hardy ungulates, of the Saharan massifs and ranges, thus superbly suited to arid Karoo conditions. Other captive and free-ranging populations are known in the Free State and Eastern Cape. These sheep are wary, difficult to approach and compete not only with domestic livestock for grazing but have an unknown impact on natural vegetation and competition with existing wild grazers and browsers, large and small. These sheep have the potential to spread widely throughout the hill ranges of the Karoo. 


Fallow Deer

The Fallow Deer also ranges widely and freely across swathes of the Karoo and parts of the Eastern Cape but it seems they do not thrive as well as the Barbary Sheep under arid conditions. 

We have also heard rumours of the presence of Mouflon (Ovis orientalis) in parts of South Africa, another exotic sheep species, but we have not personally seen evidence of their presence. If they have been released trouble could lie ahead. In parts of Europe they have become a serious pest, damaging vegetation, debarking trees and competing with such indigenous species as Chamois and Alpine Ibex. 

Mouflon


 

Rhino poaching - one has to wonder!

September 17, 2018
During the course of this year rhino poachers and their bosses in South Africa seem to have been having a relatively easy time (except those eaten by lions).

  • One 'Mr. Big' Mabuza released on bail in Nelspruit with 'strict' conditions - report to the local police station once a week and only leave the area with permission! Guess there was a party!
  • One 'prolific rhino poaching kingpin' in Botswana, one Mayo, released on bail despite being on Interpol's Red List of most-wanted wildlife criminals!
  • T...

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Thoughts on Estonia

September 17, 2018
In August we spent just short of three weeks in the Baltic state of Estonia, a part of Europe we have never visited previously. Apart from work at the Tallinn Zoo and Tartu University we had the opportunity to explore with knowledgable colleagues - looking for flying squirrel signs close to the Russian border, and European mink on the mainland and Hiiumaa Island. 



It is one of the countries in Europe with the highest levels of natural forest cover. Populations of moose (elk), red deer, roe dee...
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Julian Alps

June 13, 2018
Beautiful landscapes with surviving wildlife. At this time of year the Alpine Ibex and Chamois are on the high meadows above the tree-line, so difficult to locate. A few Brown Bears survive here in the Triglav National Park close to the Italian Alps but their true stronghold is in the south of Slovenia in the forests, with an estimated 400 individuals. For another visit! 

From our viewpoint one of the disturbing and annoying aspects of this park and many others around the world is the need for...
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The Electric Fence

April 23, 2018
There are literally thousands of kilometres of electric fencing ringing our South African national parks, reserves, game farms and Karoo sheep farms. A recent incident involving an Aardvark on a farm close to our Karoo home started us thinking. 

We know of numerous records of Leopard Tortoises being electrocuted and killed on these electrified strands. But tortoises do not pull back and receive multiple shocks. Although the Aardvark in question was only stunned, recovered and ran away, we wond...
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A few short thoughts....

April 17, 2018
The time has just been running away and our web page updates have suffered as a result. A few short thoughts from the last three months:

PHASA/CPHCSA:

The whole hunting ethics saga in South Africa continues. With the unethical hunters cornering PHASA - pro "canned lion hunting", amongst other issues. Those more ethical hunters breaking away from PHASA to found CPHCSA. South African hunting is already viewed from overseas with a hint of disgust. Safari Club International and Boone&Crocket no lon...
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The Mesquite Menace

December 10, 2017


Mesquite (Prosopis spp.), a group of about 40 small leguminous trees are native to the south-western USA and Mexico. Several species, especially Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), were introduced into South Africa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as both a shade tree and as a source of fodder for domestic livestock. It was cultivated and planted out in many arid areas of central, northern and western parts of South Africa. It forms dense thickets that even goats cannot penetrate a...
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Another sad note on the hunting front!

November 14, 2017

It seems as if many in the South African hunting fraternity are hell bent on driving another nail into the coffin of ethical hunting.

Firstly we had the using of dogs in leopard hunting, then came the infamous 'canned' lion saga, an issue still ongoing. Next the breeding of numerous colour mutant antelope species, which has angered many hunting organisations in Europe especially but also in the USA. In fact in our view it has reached ridiculous levels but the 'bubble' at least on this has b...


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Hunting Ethics

August 19, 2017

Guest blog: A letter from Gerhard von Hasseln to a disillusioned fellow hunter!

For introduction I mention that I have read your articles in the Man Magazine for which over the years I have also written some articles which were published. I arrived in South Africa in 1957 starting as a learner wool buyer. As a farewell present my father gave me a 9.3 x 62 rifle with which I shot my first bushbuck ram on a farm near Kei Road. I have hunted in six African countries though nowhere near as exten...


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The Anthropocene-age of Man or: Out of Africa - the Obsession

August 4, 2017
Current thinking is that the human lineage split from the apes around 7 million years before present in Central Africa, remaining on the continent for at least the next 5 million years.

However, the recent discovery of remains of what has been called 'El Graeco', or Graecopithecus freybergi, indicates that the 'Out of Africa' hypothesis should be re-examined. 'El Graeco' shows that human ancestors were starting to evolve at least 200,000 years before the earliest known African hominid. Is this...
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