Conservation at Huntershill Safaris
Greg Harvey is committed to increasing both the quantity and the quality of the game on the farm. He has imported various species from other African countries and further afield and regularly travel the world meeting other hunters and conservationists. On the farm are several species of buck that have been hunted to extinction in their native lands. Huntershill regularly acquires excess animals from zoos and has often exchanged animals with East London and Johannesburg Zoos and has supplied animals to other zoos.
When Greg acquired the various portions of land each one was badly damaged through overgrazing because farmers typically kept stock close to the farmhouses to avoid predators. Tenant farmers particularly had only a short-term view and allowed the land to deteriorate badly, while overgrazing the closest fields. Greg has slowly rehabilitated virtually every part of the extended farm, a process which takes many years. Where before there was devastation there is now lush grassland and savanna, sustaining herds of game.
The process has paid off. Here is a quote from a visitor in early 2011 “As a regular visitor to game parks and game lodges in South Africa and throughout Southern Africa I thought I’d seen the best that is on offer. Until I visited Wildschutsberg. On this afternoon’s drive, on one hill I saw eland, sable, zebra, black, white and normal springbok, waterbuck, impala, blue wildebeest, black wildebeest and red hartebeest. And not in small numbers, but in small herds. As we drove along the track the red hartebeest almost seemed to be racing us as they traversed the side of the mountain. Later in the 2-hour drive we saw rhino (a mother and calf), lechwe, copper springbok, gemsbok, fallow deer and more. Although the farm is vast, each time we crossed to a new area we saw more. I have never seen such an abundance and variety of game in one place. To top it all, the scenery is breathtaking”.
Greg has reintroduced several species and has brought in other species to enrich the wildlife experience. Some examples are:
Greg’s philosophy is to grow the herds until they are fully sustainable and only then allow hunting, when older and better specimens can be hunted.
Hunting brings in much needed foreign exchange to South Africa, not just at Huntershill. Most hunters visit other areas of South Africa as part of their trip. International hunters who have visited Huntershill have been very generous to the local community and have helped to build classrooms and other facilities at local schools.
At Huntershill we have established a mini zoo, and Greg never misses an opportunity to acquire new species and has recently added finches to the aviary, more waterfowl, pigs and other animals.
Educational tours are a regular occurrence, which Huntershill does not charge for. Children are brought by coach from various surrounding schools, sometimes 80-90 at a time. At Huntershill they are given the opportunity to see game and domestic animals and are given talks on farming, ecology, conservation and wildlife. A snack and a cool drink makes this a wonderful experience for the children.
There is no waste at Huntershill. Wherever possible everything is recycled. Hunted animals are skinned on the premises and the venison is used on the premises or transported to our butchery for processing. Skins are sold for leather, bones are used to make bonemeal and the offal for pets mince.
Huntershill is situated on Wildschutsberg Farm, where lucerne is grown for feed in harsh winters. Some lucerne is baled and transported to the game farm for the buck and other animals, while the non-hunted buck are allowed in to the fields for grazing. In the summer cattle from the farm are released into some areas, where they eat the longer grass, making the shorter grass more palatable to the grazers.
In 2015, Greg acquired his eighth rhino, a rhino cow. She was rescued from a game farm some 300 kilometres away and transported by Greg’s expert team released in the mountains above Huntershill. Over time she will encounter the other rhino and hopefully breed with them.