12 January 2012 by Julienne du Toit

When sheep go wild

A small tale of how sheep attached themselves to a herd of impala ... and hung out with some blesbok.

Odd things happen when farmland is transformed into nature reserves. We encountered 1 such example recently at the stunning Haaspoort Private Nature Reserve in the Eastern Cape.

Co-owner Victor Watson pointed out some odd-looking beasts drifting in the wake of a small herd of blesbok, barely visible in the thick bush. These were hardy Damara sheep, farmed alongside the mohair goats and other beasts Victor’s father had raised on the farm.

When the decision was made to restore the farm to nature a few years ago, these sheep somehow escaped capture (and still do). They attached themselves to a herd of impala, which became mightily irritated with the sheep’s bleating.

They attached themselves to a herd of impala, which became mightily irritated with the sheep’s bleating.

Nervous of attracting the attention of predators like lynx, the impala booted them out of the herd. So the sheep then began hanging out with the somewhat more tolerant blesbok. The jury’s out on how long that arrangement will last.

Victor told us that a few mohair goats had also scarpered into the mountains and evaded capture. When they were found 2 years later, their silky angora hair had grown to such an extent without regular shearing that they were tripping over it. Unlike the Damara sheep, they seemed pathetically grateful to leave the wild life behind.

Category: Wildlife

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