A GAME RESERVE FILLED WITH MAGIC

Experience a game drive through unique fynbos and enjoy exclusive personalized attention. In Wellington, the heart of the Cape Winelands, where one seldom finds such serenity and calm space, lays Bontebok Ridge Reserve. This is part of the Renosterveld Conservancy in the Limietberg Valley.

 

Only one hour´s drive from Cape Town (90km), we offer a rare opportunity to appreciate some of South Africa’s wildlife in their natural habitat- bontebok & zebra found exclusively in the Cape, mingle with eland, wildebeest, springbuck, duiker, grysbuck, grey rhebuck, and other indigenous species. The majestic mountains add to the rugged appeal of the area and offer great photographic opportunities.

 

The zebra in the reserve are part of a revolutionary breeding project that has revived the extinct quagga, a zebra like animal with no stripes on the rump and legs but with identical DNA to the Plains zebra. The name quagga is derived from the Khoi-San people, which imitated the cry of the animal.

 

The unspoiled natural surroundings create an excellent example of the biodiversity of fauna and flora. A wide variety of bird species from the small cisticola to the amazing African Fish Eagle are ever present in the reserve.

 

Come relax and unwind in our tranquil surroundings and enjoy sundowners at the lapa overlooking our extensive dam.

 

A relaxing atmosphere appreciated and enjoyed by both young and old. Ideal for all occasions.

HERDS OF HAPPY MEAT

BY ANTON FERREIRA (Sunday Times 1 March 2015)

Sometimes when I look out my window at the traffic in Main street, Clanwilliam, a nightmare rumbles by. A truck loaded with livestock that have been jolted for an hour or more on rutted farm roads. They have no water and it is 40'C. Soon their misery will deepen, and then it will be over, because they are heading to the abattoir, a squat, unlovely building near the sewage plant.

I imagine their terror as they are herded into the execution chute, their mad rolling eyes, their bellow in panic. It's almost enough to make me vegan. Almost; later, as dinner time approaches, I will start to feel hungry, and the thought of lamb chop on the braai will be irresistible.

Lucky, then, that I discovered Bontebok Ridge, a farm near Wellington where they love their animals and kill them without the stress or trauma. What's more, many of the animals they kill are wild boar.

Yes, as in the meal that makes Obelix go "scronch, scronch scronch" in the Asterix comics. About a century ago, a bunch of the beasts were brought in from Europe to roam the pine plantations around Wolseley in the Western Cape, because they eat the pupa of the moths that eat the trees. They started roaming too widely, onto farms and into the pristine fynbos, rooting up endangered bulbs and feasting on chenin blanc grapes as they went, and generally wreaking havoc.

Enter Tom and Katja Turner from Bontebok Ridge, whose property was one of those frequent by the wandering boars. Where others saw a problem, they saw an asset. They corralled the beasts so they could roam freely but not leave the premises, and waited for them to multiply.From seven animals in 2010, they have about 2500 now. And that's after killing, or as they put it "harvesting", about 200 of them.

They supply the Grand Dedale country house down the road and dozens of customers in the greater Cape Town area, including the Pot Luck Club restaurant.

The flesh of one of those harvested animals ended up on my table at Christmas. A shoulder joint. Never having eaten wild boar before, I wondered if I would "scronch". I did, but not immediately.

The first mouthful tasted, well... bland. It didn't taste like meat usually does. I had another mouthful, and another. Then I realized what was missing - the acid flavour of fear. The meat was subtle, delicate, untainted. The difference between the flesh of an animal that has died in terror, and one that never knew what hit it.

It might sound like artisan new-age clap-trap that the way an animal is killed affects the way its loin chops taste, but it's been proved by actual scientists. Stress, according to august bodies like the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation which have their feet firmly on the ground, causes the flesh of pigs and other animals to go "pale, soft and exudative". If that was not bad enough, it also makes their meat tough. So force an animal to squeeze in a truck with dozens of others, drive it for hours in the mid-summer heat, prod it and beat it towards the smell of death at the abattoir... it adds up to several liters of adrenaline pumping through its veins in the final minutes, and an unsatisfactory steak.

The Turners do things differently. Their wild boar wander at will in vast camps, swimming in the dams, foraging among the blue gums and, sometimes, rooting between rows of wine grapes.

Treats for the animals include reject pears and apples from nearby packing sheds. The fruit is fine in every way, except they have blemishes which make them unacceptable for export to the picky patrons of Waitrose and Tesco. "Instead of having to dump the fruit, it comes to us... The packers benefit from us removing it from them at no cost, and we get it at no cost, so it's glorious," Tom says.

He is the wild boar equivalent of a bunny-hugger. He refers to the sows as "mammas" and the youngsters as "babies". He has names for them. His favourite, a three-year-old called Two Spot, lets him crouch next to her and scratch her belly while he murmurs, "I love you, girl".

"they live an exceptionally happy life her," he says, "They've got dams or streams, they have no animal-human conflict. It's a lovely, very intelligent species to work with."

So Tom regards it as inconceivable that his beloved boars would end their days in an abattoir. "Our animals have never seen a tar road. I harvest our animals and that's a job that has to be done." When the time comes, he takes a .22 rifle fitted with a silencer and shoots the animals in the head as they chew on their final weet apple.

They result is "scronch". Because it's ethically grown, and you can taste it," says Tom.

RENOSTERVELD

Renosterveld is a seriously threatened veldtype which only occurs on the lowlands of the Western Cape. Today less than 4 percent of this unique vegetation still remains - virtually all on privately owned land. Rensoterveld is a type of fynbos and is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest of the world's only xis plant kingdoms.

Renosterveld is rich in plant species, including a large variety of geophytes. Many of these are endemic, and occur nowhere else in the world. In addition many species are extremely rare and threatened. The conservation of these plant species is a valuable contribution to the greater preservation of biological diversity. Renosterveld is of international botanical importance and is also a source of traditional medicines. The survival of many animal species is dependent on the existence of renosterveld and the habitat which it provides. The precarious conservation status of the threatened geometric tortoise which only occurs in this veld type is a good example of the close ties animals have with their habitat.

Gladiolus alatus
Photo credit: Lucy Skillicorn

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