The 17 new sables have arrived!
In what has been an eventful week, the number of game on Groot Sleutelfontein Private Game Reserve has not only grown, but risen to a new level of magic. The addition of the new sables adds a new depth and flair to the range of exotic species on the reserve, and makes any game drive so much more delightful!
Denis Pothas, our resident game ranger, excitedly shared his experiences of the past few days with us:
“We travelled to Thabazimbi from Groot Sleutelfontein, to the farm of well-known father and son team, Tony and Richard Morton. Their game breeding operation of rare game, Tembani, is well respected for its contribution to conservation, empowerment and sustainability in the game breeding industry. With the help of Hanru Strydom (Wildlife Manager) and Clifford Odendaal (Maintenance Manager), their team is complete.
The darting of the animals started at 06:00 on the morning of the 6th of May. The aim of the day was to successfully transport the following Matetsi Sables to Groot Sleutelfontein:
- 1 grown bull (66 months) with horn length of 45.25″
- 11 grown cows (16 – 89 months)
- 4 calves (1 – 10 months)
- 2 bull calves
The animals were all darted from a pick up or helicopter by veterinarian Dr Greeff. It was an exciting process which I enjoyed, but all of the time it was apparent how well these animals are respected by those treating them. All of the animals were examined and treated to the following:
- DNA samples were taken
- Insertion of microchip on the left side of neck
- Grown animals’ horns were were measured and written down
- Worming of all animals
- Calming injection for all animals, to ease the long drive to the Cape
- All animals were dipped to prevent tick fever
- All animals were moved into the large transport truck
At about 13:00 on the 6th of May, all of these operations were finished, and the troughs, feed and water were added. I got into my pickup and started driving together with the truck on the long way to the Karoo. Surviving the slow movement of traffic through the Johannesburg and Pretoria areas and eventually onto the N1, was no small feat with such an enormous truck, loaded with such immense valuables! The next morning, I arrived at Groot Sleutelfontein at about 05:00 and the truck arrived at about 07:00. It needn’t be mentioned that we were all pretty tired after 27 hours without any sleep, but hugely thankful that the trip went according to plan. The animals were safely loaded into the 50m x 50m boma, with the sides covered in sails (the animals experience these as a solid border). Lots of fresh feed and water were added, and then the mission was complete.
After the massive build-up over the past few months and weeks and the hive of activity to prepare for the arrival of the animals, the completion of the process brought about a great sense of accomplishment. Workers and owners alike stood staring at the amazing sight of these magnificent animals in the early morning light of the Karoo for a long time. We were grateful beyond measure, thrilled to our core, and somewhere in the team you could even see a tear or two roll down someone’s cheek.
As the early morning chill rolled away, our local chef Gladness Makaleni was ready as ever with a breakfast right there in the veldt. She treated us with her game mince and pap (salty African porridge), and we ate heartily and in silence.
After an eventful 32 hours, I then went to lie down on my bed for the first time.
Since then, the animals have been monitored daily, and supplied with a special mix of feed and lots of water. If they are in good condition, we will release them into the reserve today (13 May).”
Proud and grateful owners, Johan and Tish Meyer GSF team on top of the truck Sable calf The Sable Bull
Ranger Denis Pothas Senior Ranger Nihan Marais Chef Gladness Makaleni The transport truck