Thursday, 31 October 2013

“No settled family or community has ever called its home place an “environment.” None has ever called its feeling for its home place “biocentric” or “anthropocentric.” None has ever thought of its connection to its home place as “ecological,” deep or shallow. The concepts and insights of the ecologists are of great usefulness in our predicament, and we can hardly escape the need to speak of “ecology” and “ecosystems.” But the terms themselves are culturally sterile. They come from the juiceless, abstract intellectuality of the universities which was invented to disconnect, displace, and disembody the mind. The real names of the environment are the names of rivers and river valleys; creeks, ridges, and mountains; towns and cities; lakes, woodlands, lanes roads, creatures, and people. - Author unknown

Monday, 1 July 2013


Obedience is the cornerstone to a competent hound pack. There is no short cut to time spent in various environments under numerous conditions. Discipline is effectively absorbed over time and repetition. Without the complete system of development under a controlled and constant command, starting at puppy stage, the hound cannot be expected to reach full potential and be an asset to the pack.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Leopard land

Of the entire near pristine wilderness areas, Private ownership accounts for more than double of State owned area. When viewed from this perspective it is blatant how important the citizen contribution to conserving fauna and flora is. Land use models that allow private owners to hold back the ever increasing demand for natural resources and food security are fundamental to the conservation of wild land. On top of the list for the least ecological impact is trophy hunting. Fewer infrastructures are required in order to generate comparatively large revenue. The cost, by no means trivialised, are the lives of select animals. Like in nature the magnified view of the life/death cycle is remorseful………………but the view of the entire system is beautiful. 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Leopard territory

In time the growth and expansion of this young Baobab (Adasonia digitata) will swallow up the aged sign of a territorial leopard, but for now I welcome the slight windbreak for my pitched tent and the mental images of his outstretched claws cutting into the tree flesh.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Trophy Hunter

"The true trophy hunter is a self-disciplined perfectionist seeking a single animal,the ancient patriarch well past his prime that is often an outcast from his own kind...If successful,he will enshrine the trophy in a place of honor.This is a more noble and fitting end than dying on some lost and lonely ledge where the scavengers will pick his bones,and his magnificent horns will weather away and be lost forever." 

Elgin Gates

Sunday, 7 April 2013

hunting for a track

The enjoyment of many activities often begins with the planning and preparation, and hunting is a very appropriate example of this. For most hunters the anticipation of the hunt is as intoxicating as the action itself; acquiring and mastering new equipment, packing travel bags and gun or bow cases, reading every scrap of info about the quarry and hunting area, and lots of conversation with hunting kin, all in preparation of the adventure, whether it be a day outing or several weeks. Once the hunter reaches the destination, boots are on and nature surrounds, the hunt has begun.

For the Leopard hunter however the hunt only commences in earnest with the discovery of a suitable track. Weeks can pass travelling roads and checking game trails without success. Sundry prayers at hours of the morning when most are comfortably horizontal. And when that magical moment arrives and the familiar spoor of the elusive travelling cat is evident in the beam of the angled spotlights, you struggle to trust your eyes because it almost seems too good to be true.

Of course there are prime areas where Leopard population density is so great that in the course of a morning several tracks can enticingly be up for offer, but across the course of any committed Leopard hunters innings, those honey pots are a rarity.

So few tracks to pursue? ………………but why? ……………well because,  separate from the fact that the territorial cat usually requires an extensive area to satisfy the numerous essentials  for survival like a prey base, stalking cover, cub rearing habitat and a preferable low concentration of competing predators, to mention a few, the conscious Leopard hunter must also exclude all the intercepted female and sub-adult male tracks. What remains is a quarry that is estimated to be 8% of the total population – the mature male. Challenging.

This is one we had to pass up:

9cm measurement of the length of the front pad (including toes).

100cm stride - walking speed (exclude toes – top of the front pad to the top of the following front pad of the same paw).

Apart from the ‘roundness’ of the paw imprint and the absence of the ‘neat’ qualities of a females imprint, we can identify this track to belong to a sub-adult male due to the above measurements. A more mature male will measure at least 10cm and 115cm in these soil and ecological conditions.

It certainly was not a wasted morning and a stirring feeling of future expectation remains. Plus it is wonderful to know that no more than 48 hours previously the stealthy predator prince wandered down this path in search of a meal awarding opportunity.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Tracking to a challenge

There is a renowned quote which reads something like: 
“One does not hunt in order to kill; on the contrary, one kills in order to have hunted…....If one were to present the sportsman with the death of the animal as a gift he would refuse it. What he is after is having to win it, to conquer the surly brute through his own effort and skill with all the extras that this carries with it: the immersion in the countryside, the healthfulness of the exercise, the distraction from his job”
Jose Ortega y Gasset

Well stated! ……in a modern world where the general public are more distracted from nature, than by nature, Jose’s written words will not be appreciated,  let alone comprehended. It is only those that accept and value the nature of the world, not man’s reconstruction of it, that can part from the concrete and steel and cyberspace and convenience and profit and feel at home and comfortable in the wilds.
It is my humble opinion that a progression in hunting is only to be achieved by the regression of the hunter. A shift away from technology and contemporary improvements. A graduation to the fundamentals…………Tracking.

The spoor of an animal can be followed visually by the trail of disturbance to soil and vegetation, or olfactorally by the deposited scent trail. Generally the best results are achieved through the harmonization of these two. Where the scent deposits are unavailable the visual party are responsible for the advancement of the course and visa/versa. No evident trail signals the end of the hunt. The polished skills of the cooperative and their concentrated efforts can result in success, but the natural playing field is vast, complicated and challenging, full of natural obstacles and puzzles.

However, the more challenging often equates to the most memorable. 
And so it was on this day:
At 6am the hounds were directed to the track of a mature male Leopard. Progress was forcibly unhurried due to the intermittent soil conditions that only offered scent in select sections and visual tracks in other. We persisted until the trail entered a steep ravine where the scent line improved dramatically leading us to an impassable collection of boulders that only a Leopard could navigate.

Although we did not kill, we truly hunted.


Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Chasse aux Sangliers

More than One hundred years after this image was captured the passion for hunting Wild Boar has not waned in the first world country of France. In fact it could be argued that continuous efforts to manage a viable hunting population of Wild Boar has resulted in an expansion of the total population in  an ever decreasing natural habitat. As long as there are hunters committed to pursuing these species, so will a place be found for them in a modernizing world.