Kimberley (Photo Diary)
From battle fields to diamond fields, Kimberley and its surrounding area is drenched in history. We stayed with a wildlife vet at Magersfontein Farm where the British suffered their greatest losses during the Boer War and explored Kimberley’s preserved ‘New Rush’ streets. With so many fortunes made and lost in this historic area, Back to Africa’s Sable Project at Mokala National Park is proving to be another success for the history books.
Sable Antelope were once widespread in the bushveld areas of the Transvaal.
In the 1940’s it was estimated that there were over 36,000 Sable Antelope in the lowveld outside the Kruger National Park.
Today there are less than 200 Sable left inside the Kruger National Park!
We visited Back to Africa's Sable Project at Mokala National Park near Kimberley to see how the reintroduced herd have adapted to life in the wild. (You can see Back to Africa's logo, which features the iconic profile of a Sable Antelope, on Lula's door.)
In 2002 ten Sable Antelope were donated to Back to Africa from three European zoos; Blijdorp Zoo in the Netherlands, Dvur Kralove in the Czech Republic, and Marwell in the UK.
They were transported to Kimberley, where they formed the nucleus of a breeding unit that will be used to stock various parks in South Africa where numbers of this species have dwindled.
These introductions have yielded positive results and there are now 23 animals.
7 calves were born in 2009 and 6 in 2010!
The conservation and study of this magnificent species is a priority.
The exact reason for declines of Sable is not entirely understood, but a tick-borne disease called Theileria has recently been implicated in causing mortalities. Back to Africa are involved in research for a Theileria vaccine.
Kimberley's extreme temperatures mean that there are not so many ticks and may be why the herd is doing so well here.
The reintroduced herd roam free at Mokala National Park alongside wild African animals that include rhino, wildebeest and buffalo. Pictured are tsessebe antelopes grazing nearby.
Why the long face?
Happiness is a pink fly swat and going out to play.
We stayed with Emma, a wildlife vet, and her young family at Magersfontein Farm near Kimberley.
Magersfontein is where the British were severely trounced during the Boer War. Bow Wow joined the farm's pack of dogs and together they tore across the old battlefields.
There were lots of pebbles to fetch.
Bow Wow enjoyed the muddy dam.
Amazing how much respect a pink fly swat can command.
Ring of bright water.
Magersfontein is also a hunting farm. Neither Bow Wow nor Taula seemed sure what to make of this shot blesbok.
A wildlife vet's home is full of unusual artefacts. Bow Wow even sniffed out a rhino bone.
Too late for mouse to mouse resuscitation.
Diamonds were found and great fortunes made in Kimberley.
Some of the streets have been preserved just as they were during the diamond rush.
The 'New Rush' began in 1871 and people came from all over the world in search of small, brilliant pebbles.
In 1882, Kimberley became the first town in the southern hemisphere to install electric street lighting.
As miners frantically dug for diamonds with only picks and shovels, the "Big Hole" was created. It is an astonishing 215m deep.
From 1871 to 1914 miners found 2,722 kg of diamonds!
African sun roof.
Snorting buffalo waiting for their morning muesli at Magersfontein Farm.
Frankie (short for Frankenstein) is a gemsbok. He ran into a tree when he was little which damaged his horns and now he is convinced that he's a buffalo.
Luckily the buffalo have accepted him into their herd but he respectfully allows them to eat first before having his breakfast.
What a magical place to be a kid.
We find it's always good to end on one.