07 Sep Waterberg Heritage
We all talk about protecting our heritage so that our grandchildren can experience those things of value that we cherish. But in this rapidly changing and troubled world it is very difficult to do so. Well, we have what has the potential to be a good heritage story in the Waterberg.
We have talked at length about the Wild Dog pack that has been roaming in the Waterberg over the past few months. We have now reached nearly the end of Phase Two of the project. In Phase One the dogs were successfully collared and followed with daily location messages on Whatsapp as they wandered over a wide range. The number of followers is now well over two hundred. While some anxiety was generated by a few landowners that threatened action against the dogs, in the end the dogs survived and no court action was taken to have them removed.
Then Phase Two, the denning came some weeks ago with nine beautiful pups being born. The landowners, Andrea and Pieter van der Merwe, took their courage in their hands and decided not only to protect the dogs but to go along with the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s ecotourism model. They organized daily visits to view the dogs and at last count some 150 local and overseas guests had viewed the dogs at a cost of R550 per visitor. At the same time, with the help of Derek van der Merwe of EWT, they persuaded other landowners to donate over R120 000 worth of carcases to keep feeding the animals. Needless to say the landowners where the dogs denned lost many of their own game in the process.
The coming together and support of the local community has been amazing – something that seldom happens here as we are a community fractured by our local history. There are still warnings from some that ‘the fun we have had will not be justified by the killings that are to come’. But this is not about fun and money. It is about a community coming together to make their best effort at protecting our national and Waterberg heritage against incredible odds so that those who come after us can enjoy these amazing animals.
Our employees have made this point to us very strongly. They have made it clear that this is not simply a landowner issue. They have grown up with the wild dogs in this area and want them to survive so that their grandchildren can also enjoy them.
Phase Three is going to be very challenging as the dogs and the pups get on the move again and more than likely break up into smaller packs. If they can have an ecotourism value, we have a chance of success. Certainly the whole community except a few naysayers are keen to see it work.
For beautiful still and video images of the pack and a full written report on their activities click HERE. There are some very beautiful videos of the pups in particular,
Sam van Coller