Extreme measures

NOBLE BEAST: The Cape (or African) buffalo is indigenous to the area but are considered one of the most dangerous animals because of their unpredictable behaviour. Only distantly related to cattle, they cannot be domesticated and present an issue if they escape into populated areas. Four Cape buffalo recently escaped from Oceana, threatening to wander onto the R72 where Easter holiday motorists were travelling and potentially causing accidents

Four straying buffalo killed to protect human life

Last week there was a buzz on social media when four Cape buffalo – later discovered to be from the Oceana Beach and Wildlife Reserve – escaped and proceeded to move eastward along the beach and into neighbouring farms.

Posts on Facebook initially made light of the situation but some expressed shock later when the animals were hunted down and shot at Riet River.

Bev Young posted stating, “Apparently these noble beasts, have decided that a certain, holiday establishment along our sunshine coast, has become boring and have staged a mass protest. They escaped somehow, and recapture is in progress.”

Maureen Wentzel Andreka was less amused and wrote a warning. “Most dangerous form of wild life in South Africa,” she wrote.

Online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia states, “The African [or Cape] buffalo is not an ancestor of domestic cattle and is only distantly related to other larger bovines. Its unpredictable temperament means that the African buffalo has never been domesticated, unlike its Asian counterpart, the water buffalo. African Cape buffaloes have few predators aside from lions and large crocodiles.

Chris Roberts, the general manager of Oceana from where the buffalo originated, confirmed that the four escaped buffalo had been killed. We asked him about the incident and the reasons for killing the animals.

“At Oceana we have been in the process of removing our buffalo off the property for the last few months,” Roberts wrote in a statement.

“This is in an effort to introduce walking safaris in the property. In early April we caught the majority of the herd and managed to put a tracking collar on one of the remaining buffalo with [their] capture planned for early to mid-May.”

“After consulting with nature conservation, SAPS and our vet we realised the risk of them getting onto the R72 over the busy Easter weekend was significant and took the decision that they needed to be dealt with immediately. A professional hunter was brought in and, in conjunction with our reserve staff and Ndlambe environmental services, all four were put down by Friday morning.

“The decision to put them down was a very difficult one for us. These buffalo have been a part of the reserve for over 10 years and we consider them a large part of our conservation efforts. Our apologies to our neighbours at Riet River and the Three Sisters Estate for any inconvenience caused during this time,” Roberts said.

For the full story, please see this week’s Talk of the Town.

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