As soon as the grass sprouts after the rain, the BüllsPort team is on a large scale operation. Around 15 km of fence between the areas for game and for farm animals must be checked and repaired. The damage is caused by a specific grazing creature. Which is harming itself by doing so…
“Always the same sight: broken dropper, bent iron bars, sagging wires, fence down on the ground,” Ernst Sauber from BüllsPort Lodge & Farm sighs. Droppers are wooden rods that stabilise the fence wires. Who is causing this damage? “Mountain zebras,” Ernst responds. “They’re pushing into the grazing areas for sheep and horses.”
43 km² for mountain zebras
By doing so, they ultimately harm themselves, because BüllsPort needs the income from sheep and horse breeding to finance its nature conservation work.
The private reserve in the Naukluft Mountains covers a good 43 km². That’s 43 percent of the farm. They are reserved for the home of Hartmann’s mountain zebras (Equus zebra hartmannae) and quiver trees (Aloidendron dichotomum), which guests can experience on hikes or nature drives.
Fence protects pasture
In order to reserve the pasture for the sheep and horses, the BüllsPort team has to constantly maintain the fences to its nature reserve. “On average, we do three to four repairs a month,” says Ernst Sauber.
Now after the rains the pressure has eased. “Many mountain zebras have moved west again to the neighboring national park. There is a lot of fresh grass there,” explains Ernst. He is referring to the Naukluft Mountain Zebra Park, which forms part of the Namib Naukluft Park.
Reinforcing the fence preemptively
He estimates that there are still 100 mountain zebras in the BüllsPort nature reserve. However, that changes quickly, depending on the pasture available. And by June / July at the latest, one or two months after the end of the rainy season, the annual migration of mountain zebras begins – from the mountains to the plains.
“We need to take advantage of this time. We check every meter of the fence lines, repair even the smallest gaps and reinforce potential weak points. In a nutshell, it’s prevention instead of reaction.”
Fence work is backbreaking work
Fixing a fence is hard graft. You have to lift the wires one by one. Re-tighten them. And then insert new droppers.
What does a typical farm fence in Namibia look like? It is 1.20 metre high and consists of at least six strong wires. A dropper is inserted approximately every three metres. Solid iron standards (poles) follow every 20 metres, dug 70 cm deep into the hard, rocky soil. Every 500 metres a post, every 1,000 metres a “box” made up of two connected posts. Also 70 cm deep in the ground.
Rugged fence terrain
However, this only applies to fences in flat terrain. The more rugged the terrain, the more boxes, posts, standards and droppers are needed.
The border between the private nature reserve and the grazing area for sheep and horses on BüllsPort runs on the slopes of the Naukluft Mountains. Which doesn’t exactly makes the fence work easier…
Help from “quiver tree parents”
This time friends of BüllsPort were also involved in the effortful work, even though they live hundreds, if not thousands of kilometers away. A big thank you for the valuable contribution of everyone who adopted a quiver tree.
For more about the “My Quiver Tree” initiative just click here.
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