Conservation News and Articles

Saamgestel deur: Lizanne Nel (Bewaringsbestuurder SA Jagters), Jaco van Deventer en Hendrik Hagen (Bergriviertak SA Jagters). Junie 2019.

Hondsdolheid is een van die mees gevreesde siektes wat ‘n mens of dier kan opdoen. Alle soogdiere is vatbaar vir die virus, asook mense en infeksies vind plaas deur blootstelling aan speeksel van ‘n besmette dier of mens, soos wanneer gebyt word deur ‘n hondsdol jakkals of hond. Simptome van hondsdolheid sluit die volgende in: spierspasmas, oormatige speeksel afskeiding, waansin en vrees vir water. Indien ‘n mens of dier eers gediagnoseer is met die siekte, is dit basies ‘n doodsvonnis en daar bestaan geen behandeling wat effektief is nie. Dit is gevolglik kritiese van belang om voorkomend op te tree.

The white ring on the buttocks of the waterbuck gives it the descriptive Afrikaans name of kringgat. It is indeed a beautiful and graceful antelope that sticks to the denser woodlands of Africa and it is always associated with water. Waterbuck are not aquatic animals but tend to keep very close to water and will take refuge in deep water when threatened by predators. Food is mostly guaranteed around water and provides the waterbuck with the succulent grass that it feeds on. Herds of waterbuck include cows, calves, young bulls and often a couple of real trophy bulls. Big bulls have curved horns that reach up to 40 inches in length and can be used effectively as defence against predators and adversaries.

A small sliver of moon peeps through the dense leaf cover. Somewhere a shadow moves, stops, moves again and then emits a haunting whooooooop. Alone in the night amongst the mopane trees, the waterbuck bull freezes in his tracks when he smells the rancid scent of the ghostly beast. Is it really danger or is it mockery? Better to move to open space where the moonlight protects the prey against the predator. Whooooooop! It becomes too much for the curved-horned antelope and it trots off to the open pan where water is a safe haven. The horse of witches has once again instilled a ghostly fear in the creatures of the wilderness….

There is so much that one could say about elephants that a few hundred words in an article can hardly do justice to these great animals. People have strong feelings and beliefs about elephants, maybe because they are the last of the great pachyderms and have suffered some of the worst slaughters that a species has ever had to endure on Earth. Vivid memories of pictures of hundreds of tusks being carried by hunting guides in the American gun magazines that I read in my youth, left me with troublesome thoughts. Why did those people hunt hundreds of elephants? Was it because of the sheer numbers that once roamed in central Africa or was it simply that ivory was a valuable commodity on offer to those who cold harvest it by the ton? The result was that the Africa elephant’s numbers plummeted to around 600 000 individuals. It is alarming that poaching is still way out of control in central African countries.