Rare breeds should keep value

Colour variant game animals – currently in high demand – will soon be in oversupply, pushing prices down. This is according to leaders in the industry who attended the recent Trophy Breeders Seminar in Pretoria.

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They said that breeders of ‘rare’ game such as sable and roan antelope and buffalo could expect good returns on their investments. Dries Visser, a sable breeder with 21 years experience, said the future of trophy hunting in Africa lay in SA. He said Namibian breeders had problems with foot-and-mouth disease, Botswana had closed hunting concessions, game in Zimbabwe had been exterminated, and Zambia’s populations were under pressure.

“The quality is going to be in SA,” said Visser. He was looking forward to political stability in Zimbabwe so that game ranching there could be expanded. He was confident that prospective breeders in Africa would look to SA for good quality breeding animals. Garry Donian, who breeds roan on a 4 000ha reserve near the Gariep Dam, said that he encouraged sustainable systems for breeding. Both Donian and Visser said a game breeder could never have too many camps, although the sizes depended on management principles.

Management systems varied from ranch to ranch. Donian, for example, does not implement predator control and none of his 2,4m high fences are electrified. His philosophy is that if the cow cannot protect her calf, she does not belong on his farm.
By contrast, Jan van den Heever, who farms sable and buffalo in the Thabazimbi region, said: “Electric fences are like the arteries of your heart. If they are not working, you’ll suffer damage.”

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He added that the two lowest electrical wires were the most important as they helped to prevent warthogs and bushpigs from digging and leaving holes for predators to gain access to camps. Donian said that keeping game only becomes a business once a game rancher has sold an animal, otherwise it is a hobby. “You want money in your pocket,” he said.