“Old Boy” Suni-Ridge’s first territorial zebra stallion poached

Support the Khola campaign goals“Old Boy” was the first wild zebra stallion at Suni-Ridge. Over the 12-years, he had become quite tame, often coming to the house to visit Janet and Rob Cuthbertson at night.

Below is a copy of the letter that Janet sent to a friend about this tragic event. Further down, you can also read the letter about little KHOLA, the foal that was born after Old Boy’s death. Khola is the inspiration behind the KHOLA Sponsor Ad Campagin.

Dear Jim,

We have some sad news about Old Boy, the zebra who befriended us and posed for a photo with your Dad. Yesterday morning I woke up and felt myself choking with a panic attack due to a dream. This is the first time I have experienced this type of emotion.

The dream was about some calves that had fallen down exhausted in a cattle trek, where they were being herded to the market. I knelt down and realised that the calf which I thought was dead, was in fact still alive and I then noticed that there were many others that were being left behind as their mothers were herded onwards. It was a disturbing dream and I felt distressed all day and couldn’t really explain why. I woke up with this experience at about 6.30 am.

During the morning we noticed that Old Boy had not come up to the house as he usually did between 6 and 7 am. Our Wildlife Guard reassured us that he was out on the field eating fruit off the trees. When I went to feed the animals in the evening though, he was not there. As he had once again, not come up to the house I realised that something must be wrong. I went out and searched until about 10pm.

This morning I went out again very early, as I hardly slept during the night. Sadly I discovered him snared and strangled on the bush path at the bottom of our property. Our favourite Old Boy, our friend for 12 years
was murdered senselessly.

I went back a little while later to photograph and record the crime. I released poor Old Boy from the snare and placed some soft grass which I had taken from our lawn, under his head – just to make me feel better – as I am sure he is with all the other zebra galloping around in the other realm of life.

The amazing thing is that we realised that he must have died at about the time that I woke up from that disturbing dream, feeling as though I was choking. I would refute that we could have this type of connectedness with animals, but for this to just be a coincidence seems incredible.

I am distraught about this poaching. Our Wildlife Guard scouted the surrounding bush where he found about 15 other snares. The Police explained that they do not have the resources to deal with poaching control. KZN Wildlife at False Bay are struggling to manage with their few guards to oversee and protect 2500 hectares. They too are unable to assist.

This means that we have to fund the prevention of poaching as the Government is unable to do so. Because we provide a buffer zone for the Greater St. Lucia World Natural Heritage Site, I believe that funds should be made available for the humane management of animal life in our area surrounding the Lake.

Do you have any ideas about how we might motivate this type of support, perhaps from International sectors?

Perhaps we could make Old Boy’s death meaningful by using it as a motivation to strive for an organised poaching prevention unit for the buffer zone of Greater St. Lucia World Natural Heritage Site?

In this buffer zone, many animals are being inhumanely strangled to death as the area is very rich in wildlife (that is outside the reserves) and no one seems to control the poaching. If the carnage was domestic animals, there would be a huge outcry!

Do let me know if any ideas come to mind and perhaps you could tell your Dad about Old Boy as I know that the moment they shared was quite special.

Kind regards, Janet

Dear Jim,

I thought you may enjoy this photo of the new born baby of “Old Boy” the zebra that was sadly snared. His mare was in foal at the time when he died. Two days ago she gave birth to this beautiful little foal.

© Khola - Old Boy's foal that was born after he was snared and killed

© Khola - Old Boy's foal that was born after he was snared and killed

She has been very brave to have coped on her own without a stallion to help her. She would not join the other stallion at Suni-Ridge, but kept herself and her previous young mare foal separate from him and his mare.

We held our breath as sometimes the foal will not be tolerated by another stallion, but this one has accepts the colt when he comes near.

I actually watched the mother mare nuzzle this stallion, then pass
on the nuzzle to her little foal and she repeated this action a number of times.

His mother continued with the pregnancy and in spite of the adversity that she experienced she did not abort the little fellow. She could have lost him as she was very distressed.

We have decided to name him Khola, which is the Zulu word for “to have faith” or “to believe”.

She called and searched for “Old Boy” for many days as he had been her mate for about 8 years. She had a very long gestation period. Zebra are able to “hold” the baby until conditions are suitable and I think that it is because she had no stallion with her, that she delayed the birth.

The wildebeest also rallied around her that morning after the foal was born and even the impala were all alerted looking in her direction, thus showing us before we saw the foal, that something was happening. Nature has much to teach us.

Kind regards, Janet

© Khola in September 2007 with his mother - visit him and stay at Leopard Walk Lodge

© Khola in September 2007 with his mother - visit him and stay at Leopard Walk Lodge

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