A Cape fox family play near their burrow at the Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West. Picture: Supplied
A Cape fox family play near their burrow at the Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West. Picture: Supplied

Rare sighting of Cape fox family, Nguni calf twins show how nature is thriving

By .Staff Writer Time of article published Apr 15, 2020

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Cape Town – The rare sighting of a Cape fox family, an out-of-the-ordinary set of Nguni calf twins, and the healthy development of 11 bontebok lambs are encouraging reminders of nature’s bounty, management at the Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West have said.

The estate, which has 1 900ha promulgated as a private nature reserve, shared heart-warming news of young indigenous animals that are flourishing on the farm while more than a fifth of the global human population is in lockdown.

Cape fox have stable populations all over Southern Africa, but it is rare to spot them as they tend to be very shy, especially in urban areas.

The estate’s staff have encountered an entire family - two adults and three pups - right on their doorstep.

Its environment manager, Eben Olderwagen, said staff had previously sighted individual animals, but it was only when resident horticulturist Richard Arm spotted the entire group (they have a burrow near his home on the estate) that it was realised that they formed a family unit.

“They're delightful, with large floppy ears, and proof of how local species are thriving since hundreds of hectares of alien vegetation were cleared from the farm from 2004 to 2018,” said Olderwagen.

A Bontebok pair and their fast-growing offspring roam freely in Somerset West while humans are in lockdown. Picture: Supplied

Meanwhile, the birth of 11 bontebok in recent months has brought the number of this rare breed on the estate to more than 50. There are three breeding herds.

The estate registered its indigenous Nguni cattle stud about 10 years ago, and is home to 340 Nguni cattle.

“This hardy breed normally bear only one calf, and on the rare occasion they have twins, they generally select the stronger calf and reject the second. This was the case when we welcomed our first ever set of twins,” said Olderwagen.

“We named the rejected calf Nina, and hand-reared her with a bottle until we could introduce her to one of the smaller herds. She's now thriving.”

About 146 Nguni cows are pregnant and due to give birth between June and September. Vergelegen chief executive Wayne Coetzer said: “At this worrying time, it gives a psychological boost to see nature still flourishing.”

Cape Times

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