Stellenbosch fauna en flora 100 jaar gelede

Stellenbosch fauna en flora 100 jaar gelede

 (scroll down for English article)

Sommige mense was al bevoorreg genoeg om ‘n luiperd te sien in Jonkershoek, ‘n ongelooflike voorreg siende hoe skugter hulle is. Rooikatte, muskaljaatkatte en klein bokkies is effe meer algemeen, veral in die Cape Nature beskermde areas, maar soms woon hierdie diere sommer tussen die wingerde en plase en deel hul voetpaadjies met drawwers en bergfietsryers (lees hier).

Die rustic, landelike gevoel van Stellenbosch maak dit ‘n gewilde tuiste vir mense wat wil wegkom uit die stad se industrie en nader aan die natuur wil leef. Drie honderd jaar terug was die hierdie gevoel egter minder romanties, en was die elemente en wilde diere ‘n groot bedreiging vir die klein dorpie en sy mense.

Kenners meen in die Kaap was daar rooijakkalse, wildehonde, groot otters, bruin en gespikkelde hiënas, vaalribbokke, duikers, klipspringers, leeus, luiperds, jagluipers (noordwaarts van die distrik), rooikatte, muskeljaatkatte en wildekatte. Olifante, renosters en seekoeie was ook algemeen.

Vanselfsprekend het die Kaap minder groot diere gehuisves as die Hoëveld of Karoo omdat baie van die groter diersoorte (soos kameelperde byvoorbeeld) grasvelde as habitat verkies. Fynbos bied ‘n meer toegegroeide terrein wat grootliks uit proteasoorte en onvreetbare restio’s bestaan (‘n soort riet-agtige gras).

Tog wys ou munisipale permitte, rekords en dokumente dat daar ‘n groot verskeidenheid dierelewe destyds in die Kaap was. *In die dagboek van Adam Tas word leeus genoem…

‘n Groot deel van die area wat grens aan Stellenbosch (‘”n yslike en vaag-omskrewe gebied”) was destyds ingesluit in die distrik onder die landdros en heemraadstelsel. In die boek Stellenbosch Drie Eeue, waarin ‘n wonderlike hoofstuk oor die fauna van Stellenbosch verskyn, skryf R.C. Bigalke, lektor in Natuurbewaring: “Vir die eerste eeu en nog langer sluit die fauna van Stellenbosch dus nie alleen dié van Suidwes-Kaapland en Weskusgebied tot by Namakwaland in nie, maar ook dié van die Karoo en Oos-Kaapland”. In hierdie area, skryf hy, was wilde diere algemeen:

  • Seekoeie was volop in die bergrivier, en die daaromliggende vallei het sebras, bergsebras en volop renosters gehad.
  • Diere soos jagluiperds het in die Noorde van die distrik, in die Karoo, gebly.
  • Die Olifantsrivier het sy naam gekry op‘n ekspedisie van Danckaert, toe Friederich Wreede en Pieter van Meerhoff groot getalle Olifante, sowat 200, op die oewers sien wei.
  • In die Riebeeck-kasteel area is kwaggas en rooihartebeeste gesien.
  • By die Palmietrivier is buffels in 1777 waargeneem, naby wat vandag Pringlebaai en Bettiesbaai is.
  • Die berghellings van die Swellendamdistrik het bosbokke, bosvarke en blouduikers gehuisves.
  • In 1701 is ‘n olifant net anderkant die kaapse vlakte geskiet.
  • Hiënas was nog volop in die Kaap tot 1777.

Ongelukkig was mens en dier nie altyd goedgesind teenoor mekaar nie, en teen die vroeë 1700s is die grootste deel van Stellenbosch se wilde diere uitgedryf. Waens op reis tussen Stellenbosch en Drakenstein is dikwels deur leeus aangeval, en olifante, renosters en seekoeie was ‘n bedreiging vir dié wat op voet gereis het. Roofdiere het ook ‘n probleem geraak namate die vroeë settlaars vee begin aanhou. Gewapende wagte is soms aangestel om beeskrale snags te beskerm, maar ten spyte daarvan het leeus op die diere geroof. Luiperds het blykbaar helderoordag skape weggedra, en wildekatte het onder die pluimvee prooi gesoek.

Aanvanklik kon meeste burgers vrylik jag om wildsvleis op hul eie etenstafel te sit, maar kwotas is mettertyd ingestel om getalle te beheer. In 1684 is jagters verbied om meer as een renoster, ‘n seekoei, ’n eland en ‘n hartebees per jaar te skiet, en in 1680 het Simon van der Stel die amptelike jagseisoen in die area verkort na net twee maande ‘n jaar.

In 1656, kort nadat die settlaars hulself gevestig het, is ‘n stelsel van ‘ongediertegeld’ ingestel, waarin geld uitbetaal is vir elke roofdier wat geskiet is. (Vandag sal so ‘n stelsel skaamtelik wees.) Vir elke leeu wat geskiet en aan die kommandeur gewys kon word, is ‘n som geld uitbetaal, destyds meer as die gemiddelde maandelikse loon van ‘n arbeider. Hierdie ongediertegeldstelsel is so laat as 1817 nog gebruik.

Gelukkig word luiperde en ander wilde diere vandag beskerm, en kan ons probeer om die balans tussen mens en natuur beter te bestuur. Die Cape Leopard Trust het gevind dat daar, behalwe luiperde, steeds 24 soogdierspesies in die Boland area woon:

[…] including African weasel, African wild cat, caracal, small- & large-spotted genet, Cape fox, aardwolf, baboon, Cape clawless otter, water mongoose, small & large grey mongoose, striped polecat, honey badger, porcupine, dassie, red rock rabbit, Cape & scrub hare, klipspringer, Cape grysbok, common duiker, grey rhebuck, and even bushbuck.

Klik hier vir meer inligting oor die Cape Leopard trust se werk in die Jonkershoek area. http://capeleopard.org.za/research/leopard/boland

 

——–leef Stellenbosch———-

 

 (English article)

Some people have been lucky enough to get a peek at a leopard in the Jonkershoek nature reserve, an unbelievable treat seeing how shy they are. Caracals, cape genets (muskeljaatkat) and small buck species are slightly more common, most in the Cape Nature reserve areas but sometimes even in the vineyards and farms, sharing their trails with joggers and mountain bikers (read here).

The rustic feel of Stellenbosch makes it a popular town for people who want to escape the city’s industry and live closer to nature. Three hundred years ago, however, nature was less romantic and more of a threat for the people who stayed in the small settlement.

Scholars believe the Cape housed jackals, wild dogs, large otters, brown and spotted hyena, rhebuck, duikers, klipspringers, lion, leopard, cheetah (north of the district), lynx, cape genet and wild cats. Elephant, rhino and hippo were also fairly common.

Naturally the Cape had less big mammals than the Highveld and Karoo, as larger animal species (such as the giraffe) prefer wide open grasslands. Fynbos offers a denser habitat consisting primarily of protea species and inedible restio’s (a reed-like grass).

Old municipal permits, records and documents reveal, however, that there was still a large variety of animals in the Cape. *In his journal Adam Tas mentions lions…

A large part of the area surrounding Stellenbosch (‘a vast, vaguely defined area’) was included in the district under the landdros and home council system in Stellenbosch. In the book Stellenbosch Drie Eeue, a chapter about appears in which R.C. Bigalke, a lecturer in Nature Conservation, explains that for the first century and longer, the fauna of Stellenbosch not only included that of the South-West Cape and West Coast up to Namakwaland, but also that of the Karoo and Eastern Cape. In this wide area, many animals were found:

  • Hippo were common in the Berg River, and the surrounding valley contained zebra, mountain zebra and plenty of rhinos.
  • The Olifants River got its name during an expedition of Danckaert, during which Friederich Wreede and Pieter van Meerhoff saw large amounts of Elephants, about 200, grazing on the river banks.
  • In the Riebeekkasteel area Kwaggas and red hartebeest were seen
  • Buffalo was spotted at the Palmiet River in 1777, close to where Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay is today.
  • The mountain ridges of Swellendam housed bush buck, wild boars and blouduikers.
  • In 1701 an elephant was shot close to the Cape Flats.
  • Hyenas were still common in the Cape until 1777.

Sadly, humans and animals weren’t always favourable towards each other, and by the early 1700s most of the wildlife in Stellenbosch were driven away. Coaches travelling between Stellenbosch and Drakenstein were often attacked by lions, and elephants, rhinos and hippos a threat to those travelling on foot. Predators became increasingly problematic as the settlers acquired livestock; armed gaurds were sometimes posted outside cattle kraals at night, but despite this lions preyed on the animals. Leopards carried off sheep in broad daylight, and wild cats found poultry easy prey.

The initial settlers were free to hunt to fill their cooking pots, but quotas were introduced periodically to manage animal numbers. In 1684 it was forbidden to hunt more than one rhino, a hippo, an eland and a hartebeest per year per family, and in 1680 Simon van der Stel reduced the official hunting season in Stellenbosch to two months per year.

In 1656, shortly after the settlers came, a system was introduced to reduce ‘vermin’ (ongediertes), rewarding those who shot predatory animal. (Today such a system would be scandalous.) For every lion shot and shown to the kommandeur, a sum of money was paid, more than the monthly wage of a worker. This system was in use as late as 1817.

Fortunately the Cape leopards are protected today, managing the balance between humankind and nature a bit better. The Cape Leopard Trust found that, apart from Leopards, there are still 24 mammal species living in the Boland area:

[…] including African weasel, African wild cat, caracal, small- & large-spotted genet, Cape fox, aardwolf, baboon, Cape clawless otter, water mongoose, small & large grey mongoose, striped polecat, honey badger, porcupine, dassie, red rock rabbit, Cape & scrub hare, klipspringer, Cape grysbok, common duiker, grey rhebuck, and even bushbuck.

Click here to get more info about the work of the Cape Leopard trust in the Jonkershoek area: http://capeleopard.org.za/research/leopard/boland

———–live Stellenbosch———-

 

Sources: Stellenbosch Drie Eeue, amptelike gedenkuitgawe 1979. & www.capeleopard.org.za

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