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Early History of the KNP Area

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Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:57 pm Unread post
Fascinating indeed !
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Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:24 pm Unread post
S. C. R. Barnard Part 10.

The First World War came and went and by now Bvekenya was an experienced hunter and a fine marksman.

He preferred a side on shot behind the ear; a head on shot was only used at a charging Elephant, a retreating Elephant was shot in the spine.

During a visit to Crookes’ Corner in 1918, Bvekenya was arrested by two Rhodesian policemen and taken to Fort Victoria on a two week trek through the bush, where he was put in jail. They had sufficient possible charges but finding witnesses was difficult as all possible witnesses mostly previous beneficiaries of his hunting just gave the enquiring policemen a blank stare when questioned about Bvekenya’ s hunting.

Eventually he was granted bail of one hundred pounds, he had no money with him, a trader friend lent him the money and Bvekenya was released awaiting trial. Eventually two Shanganes were coaxed into swearing that they had seen Bvekenya shoot a Hippo. He was charged and fined five pounds, which he also borrowed from the trader. The trader also lent him enough money to by a 9.7 rifle from one of the policemen and he set off home. On his way he shot seven Elephant and recruited several Rhodesian tribesmen to be employed at the Witwatersrand mines, as compensation for his troubles.

After his arrest he went to visit his family at Geysdorp, he had not seen any of his family for fourteen years, arriving there he found that his sister Trixie of whom he was quite fond of had just been buried. His brother in law was in an unhappy state; Bvekenya bought the farm Vlakplaas from his brother in law and arranged for his father to settle there and care for the farm until he eventually returned.

During this visit, Bvekenya paid a visit to the Police Commissioner to find out what crimes they had against him, he was assured that there weren’t any, there were many investigations in the past but they had all grown stale. He had a reputation but was assured that he could not be arrested for that. He seemed to be on the wanted list more by the Portuguese authorities but not here.

Bvekenya then returned to his old haunts as labour recruiter and obviously Elephant hunter.

On his way back he thought of what had upset the Portuguese most was once he came upon a group of Shanganes on their way to traders and was told that they had been sent by their masters – the Portuguese police to purchase some provisions, he read through the list offered and came across an item Olive oil, he erased the Olive and replaced it with Castor, obviously with the intended effect, no wonder they wanted to get him.

He once wrote a letter to the Rhodesian authorities proposing that a certain area be set aside as a reserve to protect wild animals and where tourists could visit and have outdoors experience. This was rejected summarily as madness!

Times went by and eventually Bvekenya settled on a .303 rifle as his favourite as it made a sharp crack when fired, not unlike the sound of a tree being felled by an Elephant, the crack did not scare them off that much.

Things were also changing in the Sabi Game Reserve, Rangers and field staff was appointed and the poachers were finding it increasingly more difficult, smuggling their booty to the traders.

Bvekenya realised that his days of living alone in the bush were getting less as his years were also adding up rapidly and he was getting tired of following an Elephant for days, hen often not getting it.

He always made a point of it that a wounded Elephant had to be followed and found and killed.

Bvekenya is quoted as saying that he had no illusions about himself or his fellows in the bush.

From the very beginning mankind has been a parasite on the sunburned back of Africa. The Negro and Bantu killed everything on sight, whether it was an animal or Lizard. The Dutch Voortrekkers and the host of British gold diggers and hunters passed over the country like a swarm of locusts: shooting, cutting down trees and destroying. Of them all, not a single race group ever tried to understand or love Africa for herself. Instead they were a curse to a land most generously endowed by Providence with a rich inheritance of animal life, timber, wild fruits and vegetables.

Settlers had come and lavish skill, energy and fortune in cutting down natural timber and remarkable indigenous fruits which the viewed as weeds. Instead the planted imported trees and plants, and grazed exotic animals in place of the fat antelope they slaughtered with wanton stupidity. Then they cursed Africa and spent a fortune on scientific research, to find out why its peculiar environment had produced so many pests and ailments to destroy their exotic stock and crops.

Last edited by gmlsmit on Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:27 pm Unread post
S. C. R. Barnard Part 11.

The year 1929 started off well for Bvekenya, the hunting was good and Elephants were plentiful, especially south of the Limpopo in Portuguese East Africa, where they seemed to favour the Nyanda bush.

Late one afternoon he found an Elephant track – with four toes – one more than usual.

He followed the track and at sunset he found the fair sized bull. He got in one shot but the animal escaped. Bvekenya camped until dawn and set off after the wounded bull. Four toes lead the hunter on a weary chase; eventually the irritated animal turned at bay in a clump of bush and laid in ambush. The weary Bvekenya soon woke up when the Elephant charged him with a scream of rage, leaving behind him the normal path of destruction. The hunter jumped aside and put two well aimed shots into the passing beast – it collapsed in a shower of leaves and dust. It was a forty five pounder both sides, Bvekenya cut of the one, four toed foot as a souvenir.

He was in the area between the confluence of the Limpopo and the Balule (now Olifants), when the Shanganes told him about three Elephants grazing along a small little stream, two large bulls and a smaller one.

He shot the smaller one, the three set off, and Bvekenya followed, for a moment he saw the one, enormous bull his heart pounded - Ndlulamithi he was sure it was him, the ultimate. The smaller one trumpeted wildly and collapsed - dead,

Bvekenya rushed to his horse Baba and set off after the fleeing Elephants, he raced to within fifty paces from his quarry and then shouted at the Elephants, the wheeled and NDLULAMITHI put his trunk between his legs and came straight at the mounted hunter.

Baba turned and fled like the wind, The bush suddenly dwindled and they were out in the open, on the dried out bottom of a little lake, Baba put her feet into of the cracks between the huge dried pieces, slowing her down, Bvekenya glanced back and saw the Elephant still coming he felt the breath of death of the trumpeting NDLULAMITHI behind him, gaining on every pace.

They fled through the dried lake and raced up the edge, Baba crossed a donga, NDLULAMITHI swerved and went in a different direction, his rage seemingly burnt out.. Bvekenya knew that he would now flee for a long long distance.

Bvekenya was determined to get NDLULAMITHI. They followed the trail day after day, examining and interpreting every little detail. The size of the track is an indication of the height of the Elephant.

Day after day they followed the tracks northwards, at night time they slept in crude camps, living of whatever they found to eat. Both Bvekenya and Maribitane were growing weary; one evening at Bvekenya would give much to shoot it. The reply was that he Bvekenya was like a man that had everything and yet dies for the want of the stars and the moon, you Bvekenya had shot your 300 Elephants, you said you would be content with that and now . . . . .

The next afternoon they found the Elephants, in a small valley of Mopani trees. The Elephants were unaware of them. He lifted his rifle and fired and hit the smaller of the two. Both Elephants wheeled and ran into the bush. Then silence. Bvekenya scrambled up a big Mopani tree and searched the countryside, then he saw the two, one following the other coming very fast towards his tree, trunks up and sniffing.. He was ten feet up and caught hold of a branch higher up, while he pulled himself up the branch on which he was sitting, broke off as the leading Elephant brushed against it.

Bvekenya lifted himself higher, looking up he peered into the eyes of death- two Green Mambas were coiled up lovingly in the bough. Bvekenya let go and dropped down through the leaves, landing on the hindquarters of NDLULAMITHI his gun sliding off on the one side and him to the other. He landed on his feet and ran for his life, while the Elephants rushed off into the thickets.

Maribitane enquired about his rapid exit from the tree and when told the reason remarked that Bvekenya’s time in the bush were drawing towards an end.

He got his rifle and they started following the trail. Five miles further they came across the smaller animal. It was walking sideways and was tossing sand into the air and sniffing to find out in which direction the wind was blowing.

Bvekenya crept up and shot, it dropped with a sigh. NDLULAMITHI was nowhere to be seen.

That evening they feasted on the Elephant meat and Maribitane reminded Bvekenya that he had wives and children to care for, would he Bvekenya hunt until he dies. Bvekenya had a restless night dreaming of Mambas, guns and charging Elephants.

The following morning early the other two Shanganes arrived with the donkeys, they had been following the hunters’ trail, cutting out the tusks of the hunted Elephants on their way.

For two more days they tracked down them covered in dust and grime and their clothes torn to shreds. Then there he was at last NDLULAMITHI, wearily standing in the shade of a Mthombothi tree. Bvekenya studied him in silence and then stalked the Elephant slowly and skilfully.

He found his range and moved into position for his favourite shot – from the side – behind the ear. The Elephant seemed tired and was not aware of the hunter’s presence. Bvekenya heard Maribitane breathing jerkily beside him, waiting for the kill. The hunter lifted hid rifle, he took careful aim at the most deadly mark of all.

He saw the eyes in the weather beaten face, he saw the wrinkled skin, he saw the tremors of the body, he saw the ragged scars in the waving ears, he saw te Elephant in its own strength and wisdom, its savagery, its patience and courage, he saw AFRICA and he realised that he loved it. . . . . . He slowly dropped his rifle and whispered – “let him live “to the wondering Maribitane.

He said “I have had my day, I must also grow taller than the trees, otherwise I will die in the bush and become an outcast from my own kind. I have killed enough. He will live on in the bush. His cows will give him fine sons with great tusks who will make up for those I have slaughtered.”

He went his way. To each of his hunters who had become his tutors and his friends and dependants, he gave money and cattle to keep them for life.

He then went westwards to Crooke’s Corner for the last time. He washed off the dust and the Wilderness in the Great Limpopo River, and left for [i]Vlakplaas[/i to start a new life.

It was November 1929.

Last edited by gmlsmit on Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:41 pm Unread post
S. C. R. Barnard Part 12.

Today there are more Elephants in that wilderness than in Bvekenya’s time. The mighty forests live and the mighty rivers find their way to the far off oceans. The Shanganes may still remember and talk about Bvekenya, his ways and his deeds and his kindness, they may still hope for his return and that his spirit may wander off with that of NDLULAMITHI the one he loved and of who he whispered to the wondering Maribitane. – “let him live. “

This about Bvekenya came from much other reading as well as from the " The Ivory Trail " by the famed author T.V.Bulpin.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Wed Jun 03, 2009 1:24 pm Unread post
Thank you for that.
:clap: :clap: :clap:

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Wed Jun 03, 2009 2:38 pm Unread post
Joao Albasini.. Part 1

No history of the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK will be complete without mentioning Joao Albasini.

Joao Albasini was born in Lisbon in 1813 from the parents Antonio Augusto Albasini and Maria da Purificacao. Antonio was of Italian decent a farmer who left his land of birth in 1807 for religious reasons to become the Captain of a vessel sailing under Portuguese flag and an ivory trader. Maria was of Spanish origin. Their son was only Portuguese as it was his land of birth.

Joao was well educated and lived in Lisbon with his parents, his brother and his sister until the age of seventeen. The excitement of being a trader on the East African Coast got the better of him and off he went with his father en route to Bahia in Brazil and then to Lourenco Marques ( now Maputo ) where he started a trading store. His father spent some time, teaching him the trade and then returned to Lisbon. Joao never again saw either of his parents or his brother or sister.

A map dated 1876 indicates a portion of the beach of Lourenco Marques as Albasini Beach.

Life in the distant colonies was tough; malaria was the main killer of white people.

Joao was well bred and of solid substance, he was determined to make a success of his chosen lifestyle. He sent vendors into the inland to sell off his goods being cloth, mirrors, beads, knives, flint and other paraphernalia. These vendors then returned with loads of ivory, which in turn was traded with the visiting vessels for guns, ammunition and other goods he required for trading with the locals and those living further inland.

Unfortunately the marauding Impi of Sochangana a Zulu refugee from King Shaka, who had been on the rampage, slaughtering many of the small peaceful Tsonga speaking tribes in Portuguese East Africa reached Lourenco Marques and attacked the white settlers.. The settlers fled to the close by island; Shefina, under the leadership of Captain Ribeiro.

After the fort in Lourenco Marques had been ransacked, the Impi attacked the refugees on Shefina and took them prisoner; they were brought back to the main land. Where Albasini eventually was the only survivor after the other prisoners had been murdered by knocking wooden pegs through their bodies and then anchoring them to the ground.

Joao Albasini escaped with the assistance of some other black traders who recognised him; they spent a few nights in the bush and then set of for Lourenco Marques, arriving there, he found that a new Governor was already in office with sufficient reinforcements.

As Joao had, nothing left to his name. He left Lourenco Marques in 1836 to start a new life resettling in the Ntimane district. This was during a period of extreme drought and the land lost many humans and animals due to starvation during this period.

Joao started hunting Elephants, keeping the ivory and supplying the meat to the starving population, who had recently been plundered by the Manukosi gang. This was seen as gesture of goodwill by the locals and they flocked to Albasini for protection and sustenance in exchange for their labour. Albasini selected of them and they were then trained up as hunters whom he then sent out to collect ivory, rhino horn and hides, which he then in turn used as trade goods.

Joao’s hunters were well trained and they were well respected and avoided by the marauding gangs of the earlier mentioned, Manukosi, Sochangana, and others.

His popularity increased and he was soon regarded as Chief of his followers, the Gwamba people, he was called Juwawa. Juwawa was treated as the Chief as his followers ploughed his lands, brought him the first yield of their crops carried his goods and he was required to solve their disputes.

It is likely that Karel Trichardt made contact with the resourceful Joao Albasini while exploring the East Coast, during 1838. Karel Trichardt appointed Antonio Nobre as his representative in Lourenco Marques while Albasini appointed the Governor as his representative inn the colony, both signing as witnesses for the other, indicating that they were well known to one another.

Albasini and a few others formed a Company whose objective it was to increase the ivory trade; he left Lourenco Marques during January 1842 for the greener pastures calling from within the interior of Southern Africa.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Wed Jun 03, 2009 2:43 pm Unread post
Joao Albasini .. Part 2

Albasini met the expedition of Commandant Hendrik Potgieter on their way from Andries-Ohrigstad, to Lourenco Marques, and supplied guides to accompany them. The aim was to start a settlement for the group, closer to Delagoa Bay.

During his inland trek, Albasini exchanged 22 head of cattle with the Kutswe Chief, Magushula, for a piece of land along the Sabi River for establishing a trading post between Delagoa Bay and Sekhukuneland he called this post Magushula’ s Kraal. The trading post was started by both Albasini and Karel Trichardt. Bricks were burnt from clay obtained close by; water was obtained from the Phabeni Spruit. Fruit and vegetable gardens were laid on. Maize was grown and life at this post must have been quite comfortable here where today the restored remains near the Phabeni gate are worth a visit.

Johannes Joubert would run the Magushula’s Kraal trading post successfully to the benefit of himself and the two partners.

Later Albasini also built a trading post along the Voortrekker Road, which was on the route between Delagoa Bay and the inland, close to Manungkop, named after Manung one of Albasini’ s assistants who was a hunter and cattle herder.

Another of Albasini’ s assistants was Josekhulu whose name is carried by a little spruit close to Skipberg this little post 24 km from Manungkop was later used by the trader Thomas Hart.

Albasini operated a good trading business transporting his goods from Delagoa Bay to the inland via the Great Lebombo Mountains to Magushula’s Kraal along the Sabi River, to the west of Graskop along the Treur River across the Blyde River to Ohrigstad.

The grave of Willem Pretorius, who en route to Delagoa Bay got malaria, can still today be seen next to the road near the present Pretoriuskop Restcamp where he was buried by Joao Albasini in 1845.

Albasini occupied the Magushula’s Kraal trading post for two years and then due to changing circumstances left and moved further inland and built another post near Ohrigstad where he purchased the farm Rustplaas neighbouring Rozenkrantz belonging to Karel Trichardt.

Here at Ohrigstad Albasini met the daughter of Lukas Janse van Rensburg and found her very attractive, he proposed to marry her, Albasini being a Roman Catholic caused protests from the parents but all in vain, on 6 March 1850, the 18-year-old Gertina Petronella Maria Janse van Rensburg became the wife of the 36-year-old Joao Albasini. This marriage was blessed with six daughters and three sons.

It was soon realised that Lydenburg would be a better-positioned settlement; the inhabitants of Ohrigstad started moving into the new area in 1850. The Albasini family also moved and again started a trading store – in Lydenburg.

The trading business in Lydenburg was not that good, as many inhabitants moved to Soutpansbergdorp, later named Schoemansdal. The Albasini family moved to Soutpansbergdorp in 1853, again starting a shop, doing business with the local Boers and the Magwamba people, obtaining good quality goods from Lourenco Marques became difficult and Joao then decided to, move to the farm Goedewensch in 1857.

Goedewensch was soon a prospering enterprise and with hard work and all the labour and other resources available, developed into the masterpiece of the district. A large brick house was built with a high surrounding protecting wall with heavy wooden doors, which were locked at night and guarded by two guards. Water was laid on. A coffee plantation was established, surrounded by high growing Banana trees as protection, fruit trees were planted.

Here at Goedewensch, Van Nispen brought from Potchefstroom, educated the children; the farm was regularly visited by all and sundry. It was also here that Joao Albasini reigned as the Portuguese vice Consular in the Zuid Afrikaansche Republiek after his appointment by the Governor of Mozambique.

This appointment necessitated a postal service between Goedewensch and Lourenco Marques, which operated once per month by means of a Portuguese soldier fetching and delivering...

Official functions were attended by an elaborately dressed vice consular in navy and dark blue, black, gold and white, a sword in a well decorated adding to his dignity. His appearance was not very unlike that of a Portuguese Admiral.

Here at the vice consulate the Portuguese flag was flown on National holidays and the Royal Emblem of Portugal was emblazoned over the main entrance to the homestead. Albasini was not financially rewarded, for his duties; instead, it must have cost him a considerable amount employing a full time secretary, entertaining visitors and accommodating the mail carrier once per month for a week.

Albasini was a proud Portuguese and always did his best to promote his country of birth wherever and whenever the opportunity arose.

He estimated that between 70 000 and 80 000 kg of ivory worth about one hundred and twenty thousand pounds was exported annually to the British colonies, and proposed that a railroad be built between the ZAR and Lourenco Marques, unfortunately the ZAR could not due to internal problems be of no assistance.

Albasini was also appointed the official tax collector for the district, he had to collect the imposed taxes and then regularly report and pay over the collected cash as well as that generated at the auctioning of, the collected cattle and goats and sheep and copper ingots, while the collected ivory was handed over to the Government. In this way, Joao Albasini contributed quite a lot to the meagre income of the Government of the ZAR.

After the death of Venda Chief Ramapulana, his two sons Makhado and Davhana started a war, the last named fled and was placed under the guardianship of Albasini, at the same time Umzila, succeeded his father Manukosi, and claimed the expulsion of the refugee Monene, threatening to stop all Elephant hunting by the Boers. This soon extended into a war between the Boers living in the area and the Makhado and Umzila followers. Of the refugees congregated at Goedewensch after the attack on the Venda failed, while others left the area and moved to Marabastad.

The refugees at Goedewensch soon ran out of supplies and hardships set in.

Soon after all of this the locals submitted a petition to the Government, requesting that he be relieved of all his authority and duties due to his laxness in assisting them in their efforts to “ create peace and stability “ in the area.

Albasini was relieved of his duties and Stephanus Schoeman was appointed in his place. One of his responsibilities was to attack the Venda with the assistance of Umzila; this was a failure as the Magwamba people, were loyal to Albasini, leading to clashes between Albasini and Schoeman.

Schoeman reported Albasini to his superiors, who then summoned the last named to Pretoria to answer to the charges, the Executive Committee found the charges to not be substantial and Albasini returned to his farm.

Commandant- General Paul Kruger was sent to the Soutpansberg at the end of 1869 to restore peace; he succeeded in doing so with most of the Chiefs, the exceptions being Katse Katse and Makhado.

Albasini had ambitions of extending the Portuguese colony inland and proposed that the area of Magushula’s Kraal, which he exchanged from the chief, be colonised after donating the land to the Portuguese authorities. and named the area “ Sao Luiz “ in honour of the Portuguese king this was accepted by the Portuguese Governor and Albasini was appointed the principal of the new added area.. Proposals to add Soutpansberg and Lydenburg to Portuguese east Africa were submitted but were opposed by Albasini as he feared that this would ruin the good relationship between the two Governments.

It was later determined that Magushula’s Kraal was outside the Portuguese borders and inside the ZAR resulting in the extended colony ( Joaoa Albasini's dream ) never materialized.

By now Albasini had lost most his wealth and prosperity, the war between the Boers and the Venda ruined him. The Albasinis moved to the Kimberley diamond fields during 1875 where he recruited labour for the Cape Government and for the diggings. This was not successful and the impoverished family returned to the Soutpansberg in 1877.

Here he served the ZAR Government as Justice of the peace, and as Native Commissioner and also as member of the District Council, earning a meagre wage.

Joao Albasini survived a first stroke from which he totally recovered and again seemed to reign at Goedewensch and things again started to prosper, unfortunately, he had a second stroke and after being bedridden for more than a year, he died on 10 July 1888. He was buried on his farm Goedewensch, just below the wall of the . . . . . . . Albasini Dam.

Joao Albasini together with Louis Trichardt, Andries Hendrik Potgieter, Hans van Rensburg, Piet Potgieter and Stephanus Schoeman will be remembered as being of the first Europeans in the KRUGER NATIONAL PARK as well as the eastern Lowveld.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Tue Jun 16, 2009 5:24 pm Unread post
gmlsmit - again really enjoyed your writings.

Even had to return to KNP to read them!!! Travelling down the Trichardt Road in an air-conditioned, power steered, 4x4 on a recently graded sand road, I said to my daughter "Imagine doing this across virgin territory in an ox wagon at the pace oxen walk". It really makes you admire those folk.

My husband and I had the pleasure of joining Cecil Barnard's son, Izak, on an over-land, camping trip to Moremi and Okavango in 1984. He was a fascinating and interesting man. Unfortunately we didn't get to ask him much about his father's exploits.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:37 am Unread post
Alois Hugo Nelmapius

The Hungarian born Alois Hugo Nelmapius was an entrepreneur who had visions of a transport route from the old Transvaal Republic to the harbour of Delagoa Bay to export gold and other goods from the Republic and to import goods from the harbour and then trade locally.

He made a proposal to the Government in January 1875, that he be allowed to import goods that had been shipped from Delagoa Bay by boat to the footings of the Lebombo Mountains, where they would be stored, from where they would then be carried by large relays of members of the local population, stationed at convenient stations along the route to Pretoriuskop and from there then be distributed by ox wagon, to wherever the destination may be.

He proposed that a company be formed that would build bridges over rivers and streams or erect pontoons where bridges would not suffice, make and maintain roads, make and maintain accommodation for the bearers and transport riders and their goods. He also proposed a weekly mail service, carried by native runners between the Republic and the harbour town.

Nelmapius befriended the then President; Paul Kruger, who supported the idea. The plan was put forward to the Volksraad, Kruger was criticised by members for his listening to an outlander but eventually, the proposal was approved and a contract was drawn up on 18 May 1875, with Nelmapius. Under which he as reward for his services he be awarded a number of farms each 3000 morgen in extent, situated fifteen miles apart, along the road. The farms within the later Sabi Game Reserve were Ludwislust, Joubert’s Hoop, Pretoriuskop and Burghershall. He was also allowed to collect a reasonable toll fee from others who may use the facilities.

After the agreement with the Transvaal Volksraad, Nelmapius set of to Delagoa Bay where he obtained similar concessions from the Portuguese Government, a local trader was to supply the required funding of the project and Nelmapius would carry out the practicalities. Nelmapius established a limited liability transport company The Lourenco Marques and South African Republic Transport Service, with its head office at Pilgrims Rest.

Native carriers were employed for the transport work, as they were less vulnerable to the prevalent tsetse and anopheles, carried diseases.

The scheme was doing well but unfortunately due to the outbreak of the war between the Republic and the Sekhukhune chief, leading to the desertion of the native carriers’, had to be abandoned late 1876.

After this first successful attempt to establish a transport route many other smaller enterprising transport riders using ox wagons en route from Pilgrims Rest along the Crocodile River to the harbour of Delagoa Bay were established. The fly belt was evaded by doing a hard trek during the dark of night through the infested area. The road was formed by the tracks of the toiling oxen under the sounds of cracking whips and the calls and shouts of their drivers and the creaking of heavily laden wagon tracks.

The barking of the accompanying dogs gave birth to another legend of the Low Veld – Jock . . . .

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:07 am
Posts: 70
Location: Pretoria
Wed Aug 26, 2009 4:49 pm Unread post
Dear gmlsmit
Thank you for great reading, I recognize the Bvekenya history from the Ivory Trail by TV Bulpin.
It would be great if you can do a little bibliography after each fascinating historical piece.
Do you perhaps have a complete collection of your writings that I can access somewhere?

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

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Thu Dec 10, 2009 1:14 pm Unread post

When the Sabi Government Game Reserve was proclaimed by President Paul Kruger on 26 March 1898, there was very little game left in the area. It is very often assumed that this was only due to hunting by whoever.

A factor which is seldomnly taken into account is the effect the outbreak of the Rinderpest epidemic during 1896 had on the livestock and game animals of southern AFRICA.

Rumours of “cattle plague” rapidly approaching from North AFRICA, reached the already troubled Boer Republics. Very many antelope and heads of livestock had already succumbed in Uganda to this feared disease.

Rinderpest was discovered at Bulawayo on 22 February 1896.

This highly contagious viral disease was already known to be endemic among ceratin game populations in North-AFRICA, but deadly to cattle.

By 10 March it was decided to isolate Matabeleland, however it was already too late the disease had already spread to Botswana and large numbers of game and cattle had already died as a result of this disease.

President Kruger proclaimed on 11 March1896 that no cattle or game animals were to be allowed to cross the border from Botswana, Matabeleland or Masjonaland. Borderguards were appointed and placed in an effort to ensure that no animals crossed the border into the ZA Republic.

Arnold Theiler who was a pig farmer in the Pretoria area was contacted and requested to go to Matabeleland to investigate the epidemic. It took Theiler ten days to reach Bulawayo, he telegraphed back on 19 March the disease was unmistakenly Runderpest and that he had observed hundreds of cattle bodies were strewn all over the landscape.

He reported back that “ One might as well have tried to stop a rising tide on the sea-shore, as prevent this dreadful disease from travelling steadily down the main roads, nothing but rotting carcasses and ruined men are left behind’.

At that stage this disease had already crossed the border into the ZA Republic; it had already caused the first cattle deaths in the Nylstroom and Zeerust Districts.

The disease caused an uprising by the AmaNdebele making life even more difficult by now all movement of cattle was stopped all horses and mules were requisitioned and for official duty.

Theiler on his return to Pretoria was shocked when he realised that Runderpest was spreading at the rate of 130 to 160 kilometres per week.

One of the Officers in the detachment on their way to relieve Bulawayo from the uprising remarked at Mafikeng: “All the way, the road was inches deep in dust and this, disturbed by the hooves of 60 horses kept everyone enveloped in continued cloud. When trotting it was impossible to distinguish any trace of the man immediately in front of me. Added to this was the terrible stench from the decaying carcasses of the dead oxen-victims of Rinderpest-which lined the roadside. It was common occurrence to see the remains whole spans of twenty to thirty oxen lying within a radius of a hundred yards. The air was never free from this pestilent taint. Now and again, wagons were met-derelicts of the veld- laden with timber, furniture and cases of all kinds of merchandise, drawn up in the bush just off the road and left to look after themselves. All the trek oxen .had succumbed and the transport riders had no alternative but to abandon their loads. There was wholesale looting . . . . .

Then horses and mules started dying of horse-sickness, only donkeys seemed unaffected.

It was decided that all cattle herds were to be destroyed in order to prevent the Rinderpest from spreading to the Cape Colony. By now Botswana had lost more that 90000 head of cattle. After a long train journey Arnold Theiler reached Pretoria on 7 April 1896. A conference was set for 17 April 1896 at Mafikeng where Theiler would address representatives from The Cape, Transvaal and the Free State about the dreaded disease and possible ways of preventing the spreading thereof.

It was decided that cattle herds had to be destroyed and that a double fence be erected along the Transvaal boundary.

There was no vaccine available.

Despite all the above there was no stopping the disease which was spreading like a wild fire through the Transvaal. Thousands of animals died – there just no stopping or cure for the disease.

The Government purchased mules from outside the Transvaal in an effort to assist with transportation.

Theiler reported that thousand of head cattle and antelope were dying in the Waterberg District.

By August 1896 the epidemic had spread through the whole of the Transvaal, the Free State the Northern Cape. Bitterness by the Cape Community lead to replacement of Prime Minister sir Gordon Sprigg who was blamed of slackness and he was replaced by the dynamic John X Merriman.

By now in the Marico district the cattle herds had reduced from 30000 to 6766 due to Rinderpest.

By December Theiler reported to Pres. Kruger that he was expecting positive results from a serum which he had developed from the blood of cattle that had survived the disease.

By now assistance from Europe was also busy developing a vaccine.

Hunters reported thousands of game animals were found dead: Kudu, Nyala, Bushbuck, Eland, Warthog, Buffalo and Bush pigs were mainly affected; Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Sable Antelope and Roan Antelope were reported to have been affected to a lesser extent.

Very few cattle and game animals survived the Rinderpest in the Soutpansberg district, while horses and mules died of horse-sickness. What was left of the crops during after the drought was destroyed by the locust swarms, famine reigned and many people died of starvation.

It was estimated that two thirds of the entire cattle population had died as a result of the Rinderpest.

Theiler and Koch continued their research and on 10 February 1897 reported success when a vaccine made from the gall of an infected animal was injected into a healthy animal, serum was also developed from the blood of infected animals, eventually a vaccine with a 85% success rate was developed.

By August 1897 Rinderpest had spread through the Cape and Natal up to the sea shores, fortunately they were not as hard hit as the developed vaccines prevented the destruction suffered by the Transvaal, Botswana and Rhodesia.

After the Rinderpest the price of immune cattle rocketed an ox that earlier fetch R12.00 was now sold for R120.00.

Many game animals died as a result of the Rinderpest epidemic, Buffalo and Eland had almost disappeared while the only surviving Kudu in the Game Reserve were found on a hill near Klopperfontein.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:49 am
Posts: 1
Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:24 am Unread post
Thanks for sharing with us your information regarding the early history of the KNP area. These information could be rather filed to a book and then publish it. Bookworms will absolutely grab a copy of it.

Last edited by bernadettej21 on Fri Apr 09, 2010 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
Posts: 2576
Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:12 am Unread post
Hi bernadettej21, welcome to the forum.
Thanks for your kind words - appreciated.
The Shangane are very special people, they live on the land and from the land and they do not waste.
They have wonderful traditions and a very rich culture, which they still honour and respect, even today.
Most of the early employees in the KRUGER PARK were Shangane who always did their jobs with pride and yet humble.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
Posts: 2576
Sat Feb 20, 2010 7:56 pm Unread post
The Little People Part 1.

The last glacial period lasted between 30000 to 12000 years ago.

Temperatures started rising and it is therefore commonly accepted that due to climate change that what we accept now as Sothern Africa, started being populated about 12000 years ago, the area then became more suitable for human population with temperature and rainfall changing.

That climatic change through many centuries definitely had an effect on the cyclic changes is a given fact; indications currently are that in recent history there have been no major changes to the topography, rivers and game areas during the past 12000 years.

Short term changes should have had an effect as periods of drought would cause rivers and waterholes to run dry, resulting in plants withering and animals moving away or even succumbing, then during periods of recovery would begin at the start of a better rainfall cycle.

This does not at all mean that Southern Africa was not populated earlier in the earlier Stone Age periods. As many remnants of tools and bones dating back to the earlier periods are found.

Carbon dating of ash deposits in a shelter near Skukuza indicate habitation about 6800 years ago with another deposit closer to the surface at the same area indicate about 3300 years.

Remnants of many species roamed the plains during the mentioned periods include: Impala, Kudu, Reedbuck, Bushbuck, Sable, Roan Blue Wildebeest and Eland. Warthog and Zebra were also found as well as many of the currently known smaller animals as well as birds.

The hunter gatherers of this period seemed to favour a bow and arrow with a sharpened poisoned rock point attached to the shaft as their favourite weapon, this may have been developed towards the end of the late Stone Age. No indication of the type of poison used had been found in the Kruger Park but it may have been from a Euphorbia or even snake or spider derivative.

Bone was used as tools e.g. as drills, scrapers and even cutting tools. Bone was also used as needles and even for adornment.

Pieces of rock were also attached to sharpened timber and used as digging tool.

Indications are that as the technology improved the hunting of larger animals became more frequent.

Flat rocks with scour marks indicate grinding of nuts and seeds, also possibly ochres and hematite oxides for adornment and painting.

Grooves in rocks indicate scouring of items including Ostrich egg and Mollusc shells which was used for adornment and worn around the neck, arms and legs, of these were also attached or sewn onto belts and carrying bags.

Very few finds indicating the type of clothing worn are made, but fortunately much is visible on the many discoveries of rock art made.
It is clear that they clothed and covered themselves in animal hides depending on the activity and the reigning climate including the temperatures.

Very few graves have been found, remains indicate much of the appearance, lifestyle, clothing and jewellery as the deceased were normally buried together with their belongings. The remains of a little girl who had died about 9000 years ago and wrapped in an animal hide was found in the Bushman Rock shelter still with a string of Ostrich eggshells around her little neck.

Some graves covered by a rock with maybe a painted emblem thereon were found in the southern parts, however very few of these have been found in the Kruger National Park.

Many sites of rock art have been discovered in the Kruger National Park, mainly due to the efforts and guidance interest and perseverance of Senior Ranger Mike English now retired.

This rock art gives us today an indication of the lifestyle and culture and habits of the artist and his people who roamed this area many thousands of years ago. The San people or the Bushman or as I prefer calling them – the Little People who lived their little lives in peace, who never wasted or brought any harm over anyone.

The other ethnic groups started moving southwards about 3000 to 2000 years ago bringing the Iron Age with them to the area. The earliest indication south of the Limpopo was found in the Swaziland area dates back to approximately 300 A.D.

Proof that there was contact between the Little People and the Black People is founding many of the rock art paintings, tall people clearly not Bushman with faces indicating of possible East African Masai or Watusi decent.

Unfortunately there was conflict between the Little People and the Black People coming from the north, who brought their livestock with them, the Little People regarded the livestock as fair game resulting in retribution raids, the Little People moving out of the area further westerly towards the more arid areas, leaving behind their art and a few artefacts.

Re: Early History of the KNP Area

Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2007 4:52 pm
Posts: 2576
Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:32 pm Unread post
The Little People Part 2.

These wonderful Little People were of the very first inhabitants of the Kruger National Park Area. They were nomads who lived off the veld and moved as the conditions changed and recovered.

The men were the hunters, using their little bows and poisoned arrows, while the women collected smaller animals, roots, tubers, berries and other edibles.

They were not cultivators; they did not build villages, maybe a temporary little grass or reed structure. They lived in caves and under overhangs where many of their artefacts ashes and other remnants are uncovered.

Exploration in Kruger have uncovered few remnants in the higher areas, most of the finds were made in the lower lying parts of the southern areas.

Anyone really interested should take part in the Bushman’s or Wolhuter Trail in the Kruger Park with a specific request to the Trails Ranger to take you to these precious sites. You will return tired but with a fulfilled spiritual experience.

Col. James Stevenson Hamilton made mention of rock art discovered in the South Westerly regions, in his journal dating back to 1911.

Ranger de la Porte posted at Kaapmuiden, made mention in 1912 of findings made while out on patrol.

Ranger Mike English made many finds and Prof. Murray Schoonraad of the Pretoria University was contacted during 1978 about the preservation of the Rock Art, he started his exploration under the guidance of Mike who in total at first made a discovery of 120 rock art sites and at a later stage a further 60 now totalling 180 sites by Mike English. I was very privileged to have access to Mike’s photo albums of rock art, this dedicated conservationist together with Andre his wife truly has a caring love for all that is available.

Mike has plotted every one of his sites on a 1:50000 map indicating the exact geographic reference, after using aerial photos of the area and doing very careful stereoscopic studies of possible sites.

After retirement Mike set up a further venture to uncover rock art sites, after the approval of SANPARKS Management had been obtained, he applied for a grant from Anglo American worth R250000 which was approved and together with a few other experts a further 240 rock art sites were found mainly in the southern part of Kruger during 2007 and 2008.

It is worth mentioning that the first engravings of animal spoor were discovered in the Punda Maria area.

Characteristics of the sites are that they are mainly:

In the low laying areas or at the foot of Koppies and Mountains, normally about 15 to 20 metres above the surrounding areas. This would make it easier to bring in water and food and wood and other while ambushing game animals from these placements would also be an advantage.

Close to natural waterholes and rivers and fountains and pans, this would be advantageous as drinking water was close by and would also attract game animals and edible vegetation for own use would be more in abundance resulting in less distance to travel in finding sustenance.

They have a good view of the current game paths.

They are camouflaged by natural vegetation, which has possible added considerably to the preservation of the works of art. This would also make their living area less visible to possible enemies and also less exposed to the elements, adding to the comfort of the living area.

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