From the Warden Col. J Stevenson Hamilton's annual report of 1925:
The present condition of all species is highly satisfactory. Neither the exceptional floods of the earlier, nor the prolonged drought of the later months of the year has had any bad effect upon breeding or condition.
In respect of lack of pasture, it is commonplace knowledge that game will grow fat where cattle starve, and the assertion that a good game country is necessary a good cattle country is not supported by facts.
The truth is that species has its own particular form of grass or herb which it favours; some animals are mainly or entirely browsers, other types mainly or entirely grazers, and every species has a particular kind of tree, bush, grass, or ground plant, which it prefers to all others, and which differs with different species. This disposes of the delusion not uncommonly held, and sometimes express affect that one type of wild animals, by increasing too much, may oust another and rarer species.
The fact of one species being common within a certain area, while another is rare, merely implies that the particular class of food is abundant or the reverse therein.
Had this not been the case, the animals congregating in large herds, usually the most numerous, would have ousted most of the others from the earth long before man took any part in disturbing balances; but on the contrary we know that when a country well stocked with wild animals is first seen by civilized man, all species teem in abundance, each in its favourite habitat, and this in spite of the multitudes of predatory carnivora which have long roamed unchecked.
Outstanding instances of the above are the High Veld of the Transvaal as it was first found by the Voortrekkers, and the Low Veld of the same country as existing on its first invasion by the white hunters, both at the time being, on account of prolonged native wars and raids, almost destitute of inhabitants, so that Nature had for a good many years been allowed unrestricted scope.
In my annual report of 1912, I attempted a very rough estimate of the number of game animals present in the Reserve. I have reason to believe that my calculations were then considerably under the mark, and since that time the total has increased at least fourfold, in spite of the fact that from 1914-1919, the large increase of poaching and of predatory animals caused increase to be less rapid than would otherwise have been the case.
Nevertheless, even now, there are areas wherein water exits in sufficient quantity to satisfy the not very exorbitant demands of the wild animals, and where pasture appears sufficient, which are not yet stocked to any extent, and we cannot be said to have yet attained to the faunal level of the less disturbed game countries of east and central Africa.
There is no doubt that the provision of adequate watering facilities by dams and boreholes in some of the more arid parts, especially north of the Letaba, would lead to a more even distribution of the various species, instead of, as now, having great masses congregated at the end of each dry season in such spots as may be most favourable for food and water, while very large areas are meantime destitute of all wild life.
There are, in fact, only few of the best stocked areas which are at present capable of providing the concentrated mass of wild animal life, necessary for the full interest and enjoyment of the general public. However, attractive to scientists, I do not think that the sight of a few isolated animals or herds of species however rare, would prove permanently so to the bulk of the public, and what should be aimed at is to show large quantities of very tame creatures, close to hand, displaying little or no fear at the presence of large numbers of human beings, and which need not be sought for painfully and with difficulty, but may be readily observed by the most inexperienced persons at any point of the area which they may choose to visit. With a continuance of the present system of preservation, and an extension of watering facilities, I make no doubt but that at their present rate of compound progression, the numbers and distribution of the animals may justify this ideal at no distant date.
I have been told by hunters who knew the district as long ago as 1880, which was before it had been very seriously exploited for hides and biltong, that game today is at least as numerous as it was then, and that the larger carnivore are much less in evidence.
I participate because I care - CUSTOS NATURAE
No to Hotels in and commercialization of our National Parks.
No to Legalized Rhino and Lion trade.
Done 144 visits to National Parks.
What a wonderful privilege.