“Silky and her Mom” – a sad Suni-Ridge story

It is essential that we protect our wildlife from poaching and hunting. One might understand the terrible “need” if it was driving by hunger for the poverty-stricken table, but in most cases, it’s because of the bush-meat trade or other profit-driven reason.

If things carry on as they are now, there won’t be any wildlife left to see. This needs to stop.


Janet Cuthbertson tells the sad story about Silky and her mother:

“Saturday morning we awoke to our zebra calling. That is always a reason to feel uneasy as it usually points to a problem! Our game guard was no where to be found. Our budget only stretches to employ one game guard. We should ideally have two, properly trained and armed, but it costs about R5000.00 per month to do this.

True to our expectations, we found one zebra missing. It seemed to be the new baby’s mother. Rob and I then started searching the bush. The baby was definitely on it’s own and came running out of the bush where we were searching for them. The other zebra would not approach us, which is unusual, but they were obviously upset and still calling each other.

The little foal’s call was almost like a bird sound… I managed to get close to her and to manoeuver her to join her dad and the other young female who had run around the ridge. The herd used to consist of her mother, the father and the other young female. Now her mother was missing. Old Boy’s mare and young foal who always stay separately, joined them after a while and they all ran off together to the bottom of the reserve.

We kept looking desperately and also called in neighbours to help. KZN Wildlife (Parks Board) were unable to come as they were doing a game count. We could not bear the thought that she may be struggling somewhere in a snare.

Rob and I searched till 3pm, but could not find her. We returned to find out what had happened to our game guard. Afterwards, we continued searching until nightfall, and then we went out for a quick bite. I burst into tears in the ladies room at the restaurant. I was thinking of how the little foal had been walking so forlorn with her head down. She was obviously sad and distressed and wanting her mother.

That night and the next morning – still no game guard, so we continued looking. We could just not find the mother. The baby seemed ok and was still with her dad and the other mare, who she tried to drink from. Rob and I trekked the 200 hectares back and forth the whole day! Last night the zebra all came up to the lawn and nuzzled my hand. The little baby came near and I held some milk in a dish, but she was unsure.”

“Tonight the zebra came up to us at our veranda again, and they are very protective of the little foal. She is trying to nurse from the young female, who doesn’t mind too much. The dad and the young female keep her between them when we approach. I took some photos. They eventually laid down and all slept just next to the veranda in the light. Before that she stood sleeping with her head down.” (02 July 2007)

“Some sad news. We found the mother zebra and I am still reeling and feeling quite ill from what we found. She was snared and unbelievably she had been cut up – legs hacked off and pieces of her lovely torso cut up. She was so beautiful and friendly. I just cannot stomach this. The website I hope will enable us to find support to set up a better poaching control system.” (03 July 2007)

“Today the little zebra seems to be on her own so we will have to watch her and see if she is going to need help.” (13 July 2007)

“I just came back from looking for the baby. I could not find her. The dad and young mare came up to me in the bush and I spoilt them with bread laced with sugar, intended to give to the baby. Perhaps we will see her tonight. Hold thumbs.” (16 July 2007)

“The day before yesterday the little foal started allowing me to touch and stroke her. Yesterday afternoon when I went to check her I found her in a field far from the waterhole, all on her own as she could no longer keep up with her father and the other young mare. She then followed me back to the lodge.

Sadly she had developed colic and we could find no one to help, except telephonic advice from the CROW (Centre for Rehabilitation Of Wildlife) vet who was very caring and sympathetic. I sat with her until she died. We are all heartbroken about her death.

Can you believe that the wildebeest came close to see what was happening? When Silky was too weak to move, just her little ears kept moving, as she still tried to hear everything around her.

This morning we buried her next to her mother, at the tree where the mother had been buried after she had been snared and hacked up. At least I feel better knowing that my little darling is now back with her mother! The day before she died after stroking her coat which she loved, we decided to call her Silky.”

“At the moment the matter of the animal abuse by poaching in our area, is resting at the door of the Assistant Commissioner of SAPS South Africa, Head Office. I am also busy with KZN Head Office, whose official verdict is that they should be dealing with poaching issues according to their responsibility, to enforce the law concerning the protection of wildlife.

The SPCA seem powerless to act up here, as they’re too far away. The press has already done a report previously, so follow up and investigative reporting will be better. We cannot let Silky and her mom’s death be in vain.” (19 July 2007)

Please help prevent this from happening to other wild animals

Your (financial) support is very much needed to provide protection for the wildlife in and around Suni-Ridge, and for the continued efforts with environmental education within the local communities.

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