The South African game and wildlife ranching industry should be proud about the conservation successes it has achieved on private land. So says Willem Frost of Matlabas Game Hunters, who has been farming game on Goedgedacht close to the Matlabas River in the Lephalale district in Limpopo since 1991.
Over the last 30 years, Frost has expanded his operation to include a large variety of game in his effort to build and maintain what he calls the “effective functioning of the ecosystem”.
“Conservation is not only about the welfare of specific animals,” he explains.
When Frost first entered the industry, there were only a few antelope running on the 2 500ha farm, but it has now been populated with buffalo, giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, red hartebeest, blue wildebeest, kudu, eland, oryx (Oryx gazella), nyala and small game such as warthog and duiker.
Frost explains that he only keeps animals that historically appeared in the area, as he wants to keep the ecosystem as natural as possible. This approach also entails that the animals are not kept in separate camps, but rather run extensively.
The farm is situated in the bushveld. As it is close to the Kalahari, the soil tends to be sandy. The farm receives an average of 420mm of rain every year; however, during the last three years, the rainfall was far below average.
The animals graze mostly on natural sweet veld, and there are no planted pastures on the farm. The farm also has a variety of thorn trees and around 10 watering points.
Frost provides the animals with a winter lick. During drought or when the veld’s condition is poor, he provides additional feed, such as lucerne.
The veld’s carrying capacity is 11ha/ LSU. The farm is currently stocked at around 90% of capacity, but Frost says he maintains a good balance between grazers, browsers and mixed eaters.
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