The Annual Game Count was resurrected in our valleys and hills in late June this year. This time of year was recommended by Ezemvelo because much wildlife congregates on the pastures that farmers have planted (and perhaps irrigated) so they are easier to spot. We didn’t realise that it would clash with a rugby match or that many people prefer to watch wild men on TV to wildlife on their farms! Next year, we will host it on a Friday instead.
Between 5pm and 7pm, Dargle, Lidgetton and Lion’s River residents wrapped up warmly and headed onto their properties to see who shares it. Some sat quietly in the forest with a flask in hand, while others packed the kids in the car and drove along farm roads with eyes peeled. Afterwards, many people came down to the Lions River Club where EKZNW Honorary Officers, Alan Jack and Caroline Leslie were collating all the exciting sightings and Jeremy Barlow was serving scrummy soup and sherry.
25 properties participated. Reedbuck, Bushbuck, Oribi, Duiker were the main sightings, with most people concluding that numbers were lower than usual. Some lucky observers spotted a mongoose, a serval and a genet. Only 5 jackal, 4 porcupine, 2 rabbits and 11 bushpig were seen – we hope there are many more out there.
At a presentation on Saturday morning, Neville van Lelyveld pointed out the three types of poaching that occur in our area Subsistence, Commercial and Syndicate and explained the differences.
Brian Jones of SA CAN updated us on their work with anti-poaching and gave everyone who attended a free three month trial of SA CAN services. Remember to call them with any incident of poaching – they cannot respond to all of them, however it is important to build up a record and if they observe a lot of activity in Dargle, they will focus their attention here. 083 799 1916. You do not have to give your name.
The Stock Theft Unit of SAPS is now dealing with poaching and wildlife crime, so a really good idea to report to them as well: Warrant Officer DN Kay 083 778 0864. Save these numbers in your phone now.
Later, on a chilly, moonless evening, Jenny Goddard was part of a small but intrepid group who joined Neville and Hayley van Leyleveld on a 2 hour guided game walk on the Sinclair farm.
“Unfortunately the wildlife decided not to play ball, and other than hearing a group of reedbuck calling to each other in the dark, our only “sighting” was a stray cow that gave us a massive fright when she appeared in our midst from no-where! Neville’s interesting anecdotes, the information he gave us on poaching, and his immense knowledge of the flora and fauna of the Dargle kept us intrigued during the walk. We certainly came away very much the wiser.”
On Sunday morning, Katie Robinson hosted a Track, Scat and Snare walk on Lemonwood.
Due to recent logging activity there was not much animal movement so the group proceeded through the boundary fence onto Iain Sinclair’s property. First we came across Jackal scat that contained scrub hare and vlei rat fur enabling us to see clearly its natural diet. To everyone’s excitement we found Great Spotted Genet tracks and scat and later, a print in the mud from a Marsh Mongoose – two creatures not often observed. We also found Bushbuck, Reedbuck and Spurwing Goose tracks during our walk on a really lovely sunny day.
Many thanks to Neville and Hayley van Lelyveld for their enthusiastic efforts to make our Game Count weekend a