Groote Schuur Quagga News

Fair warning: it’s sad news.

But first, what are a Quagga?

Wikipedia says:

The quagga (Equus quagga quagga) is an extinct subspecies of plains zebra that lived in South Africa until the 19th century. It was long thought to be a distinct species, but genetic studies have shown it to be the southernmost subspecies of plains zebra.

That are nice. And what can like to be the Quagga Project?

The Quagga Project is an attempt by a group in South Africa to use selective breeding to achieve a breeding lineage of plains zebra (Equus quagga) which optically resemble the extinct quagga (Equus quagga quagga).

And thus, Quagga Project quaggas are dotted all around the Cape. Some of the most successful here, and (definitely) some of the most local just across the road from Groote Schuur Hospital.

Here’s a really poor photo I took of one back in 2014.

An aside: My, how my photography has improved. Or maybe it hasn’t, and I’m just more selective in what I choose to upload.

Or maybe both.

You decide.

Anyway, it seems that I’m not going to be able to improve on any previous photos of quaggas on the Groote Schuur Estate any time soon:

The animals at Devils Peak/Groote Schuur Estate have been moved due to uncertainty over their water supply during the water restrictions being imposed on Cape Town. Quagga and zebra need to drink daily and even a short interruption to their water supply could have devastating consequences. They have been moved to Elandsberg Farms near Wellington and Groote Post near Darling where they have joined other groups of Quagga in the wild. There are natural water holes on both these properties and the Quagga Project felt it would be safer to keep these animals there.

This is no surprise to me. I’ve been watching the Estate getting browner and browner for the past few months, and I hadn’t seen a quagga there for weeks. I usually see them twice a day: up at the top of the fields in the morning and then right down by the bottom of Hospital Bend each evening. Cape Town traffic being what it is, there’s generally plenty of time to watch them as you don’t drive past.

Sadly, it sounds like it’s a permanent move:

Those animals have been moved to other herds – the best known one, a lovely stallion called Khumba, is now on a farm on the west coast where he will hopefully father the next generation of Rau quaggas.

While that means less fun when driving to and from town, especially for my daughter, it does sound like the best thing for the quaggas. And hey, maybe another family road trip is called for out to Groote Post (conveniently located on  the Groote Post wine farm), or maybe a visit to the Nuwejaars SMA (conveniently located all around the (perennial favourite) Black Oystercatcher wine farm)?

What’s not to like?

No more quaggas on the mountain, that’s what. 🙁


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