New Lease On (wild) Life

Geoffrey Caruth is a doer. He gets going. He has run an indigenous nursery in an industrial area for decades, he ran an Olde Heritage Shoppe for years, he built a pond in a park – as a donation to the people of Westville; he has a lovely young (much younger!) wife and two ugly old dogs. He lives on the bank of the Palmiet river, on the boundary of the Palmiet Nature Reserve. Sure, he thinks that to be an Englishman is to have won the lottery in life, but hey, even he’s not perfect.

Recently he decided to re-introduce bushbuck into the 100ha Palmiet Nature Reserve in Westville, KwaZulu Natal and – typically – got off his butt. I would have talked about it, he rallied the troops. The bushbuck or imbabala (Tragelaphus sylvaticus) should be eminently suited to our valley and we hope they’ll thrive here.

So this week, 18 months after he decided to launch “Operation Nkonka”, we were in the Palmiet watching five beautiful bushbuck, three females and two males, jump out of the back of the truck and explore their new home.

Geoff and Warren Friedman watch with pride and angst:

Nkonka release

A = Release site

B = Where I last saw a bushbuck

C = Our home

Later four more were released. Soon we’ll be fawning over their offspring, we hope!


nkonka is isiZulu for male bushbuck;

bushbuck in general are imbabala; the Cape bushbuck is our species; the other is the Harnessed bushbuck or kéwel, a different species in west and central Africa. Convergent evolution has them looking very similar but ours is closely related to the Bongo and the Sitatunga while the Harnessed is closer to the Nyala. The Nyala has the wonderful Latin name Tragelaphus angasi – you can imagine how that came about! (angazi in isiZulu can mean ‘I don’t know’).


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