Locusts

AG Schoombee, settler near Middelburg

Rocks truly are the curators of history in the Karoo.  Way back in 1780, a Dane left his mark on a Karoo boulder. A G Schoombee was so delighted by the Karoo that he carved a message on a rock and settled right there despite the fact that the area was in the grips of […]

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Locusts, drought, and devastation in the Graaff-Reinet district

The Cape passed into British hands in September, 1795, yet, by 1797 when Lord McCartney, became governor, there was still scant interest in the hinterland. Their only concern was that the Cape’s meat supply came mainly from Graaff-Reinet and some lesser interior districts. In journals reporting on his journeys to the Eastern Frontier, William Somerville […]

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The locust scourge

Many early writers describe great swarms in Karoo “as a blanket drawn up over the sun.” Remembering his teenage years, José Burman wrote that on a clear day it seemed as if the sun had suddenly gone out. Myriads of insects covered the land as far as the eye could see. Flying swarms took up […]

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Tough Trip To The Karoo

After several locust plagues and a severe drought, Maj-Gen Dundas, in 1801, sent a commission into the Karoo to investigate the situation.  Among them was William Somerville who recorded the trip in his journals, which have recently been published by the Van Riebeeck Society.  A train of six large bullock wagons was readied for the […]

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