"My buffalo story told to Shayamanzi" by J.G. du Toit
Dr. du Toit tells us his fascinating journey with buffalo's. From the strange manner he became involved during his military service, up to the impact his actions and studies had to keep South Africa's buffalo's free of the scourge of the Tuberculosis disease.
This book is based on my work with buffalo as a veterinarian and the people that I have met along the way. My real first contact with buffalo was during 1982 when I was a post graduate student in Wildlife Management at the University of Pretoria. I have studied the effect of trophy hunting on our wildlife and the competition between overseas hunters and the South African hunter. Who started with the mythical concept of the Big Five? I have searched this question for many hours. The old hunters during the era of Selous never wrote of the Big Five, but they often refer to “The Big Game Animals of Africa.”
The first buffalo that I have darted as a private veterinarian was in the early 1990’s when De Beers Mining Company started a project to use Corridor infected buffalo from KwaZulu-Natal and breed with them in Kimberley, a brown-ear tick free area. Dr Hyme Ebedes was their consulting veterinarian. He was not available and I was summoned by Mark Berry, their ecologist to come and assist. My knowledge of the attitude of buffalo was not great at that time. The last animal darted was a young heifer calf of just over a year old. The temperature was rising and I was getting a bit nervous to dart expensive animals (R5000 then, R500 000 today) when the temperature reached 25ºC. I said to Mark Berry, “Let’s jump in and catch her by hand.” She quickly chased us around. Mark was passing me with the heifer close on his heels shouting, “Shit, Kobus this is cowboy country.” We caught her eventually but since that day I have decided, buffalo capture is not for cowboys. As my friend Jaco Ackermann said, “A buffalo is the safest when one can break his biltong (dried meat).”
It was not an easy task to document my buffalo story because it comprises the integration of clinical work, politics of veterinary science with cattle ranching, friends, public egos and a charismatic mega-herbivore. Some material will be too clinical for one reader but of value for somebody else. Technical sections are added as appendices to make the reading easier.