Tracking hares in the Karoo

William Burchell mentioned that the Karoo “plains abounded with hares.” This observation was made at Dwaalpoort, near the Sak River, 35km east of Fraserburg, on August 30, 1811. Generally, however, few people mention these creatures, states CJ Skead in Historical Mammal Incidence in the Cape Province, yet they must have been plentiful on the dry plains of the central interior. Lichtenstein mentions killing hares west of Carnarvon on May, 1805, and seeing more at Waaifontein, 24 km northeast of Nelspoort, near Beaufort West. De Grevenbroek, another early visitor interested in nature as well as the customs, habits and taboos of the Hottentot, oddly enough states “a boy may eat the flesh of hares only until provided with a wife.” Recently, Anita Wheeler of CapeNature explained the difference between rabbits and hares for readers of My Week. “Rabbits are born blind, hairless, immobile and helpless in burrows lined with fur. Even as they develop they are not very fleet on foot,” says Anita, who has been involved with rabbit research in the central Karoo for many years. “Hares, on the other hand, are born with their eyes open and all senses fully developed. At birth, these animals are fully furred and within 48 hours they are active. They have sleek limbs and bodies built for speed. This enables them to run very fast.”

© Rose’s ROUND-UP

Vol 2 No 37 – October 2006