The Story behind Overberg WildnFree
Sometimes in tragedy we find our life's purpose...
PREVENTION, PROTECTION, CONSERVATION AND EDUCATION
All animals had been wild once. They are not suppose to be educated about road behaviour (such as the "Stop, look and go" system) poisoned food, etc. They act on basic instinct like hunger, fear, exhaustion, and mating needs. They had been here before us. We are; n their territory, not they in in ours.
The aim of OVERBERG WILDNFREE could be devided into four main categories
1) PREVENTION AND ALERTIVE PROJECTS
After the big success of our very first baby-project, the Wortelgat Caracal Project, we wish to implement more such projects to prevent the loss, and decreasing numbers, of wild animals in the Overberg Area due to a variety of reasons, one being car collisions. Most of these accidents happen because the motorists are not aware of small wild animals, such as caracals and porcupines etc, living in the nearby areas where he/she is traveling.
Motorists that are not aware of these animals are not normally alert or on the lookout for such animals, that might unexpectedly cross the road, especially in darker hours between dawn and dusk, as most of these animals are nocturnal creatures, that mostly hunt from one hour after sunset, to one hour before sunrise.
The Caracal Warning boards were put up on the Wortelgat Road in Stanford, as well as the distribution of "Drive Safe At Night" reflective car stickers.
We wish to continue with the caracal warning boards in the surrounding areas in Overberg. We also are currently working on more designs for future preventative tools.
2) PUBLIC AWARENESS AND EDUCATION
To benefit our local community of Overberg, OVERBERG WILDNFREE would like to offer the community informative talks on a monthly basis, regarding specific wild life in our area.
These talks and education sessions would cover subjects like
- Human / Wildlife conflict (Farmers and caracals/black-backed jackals, and porcupines)
- Injured or abandoned Wildlife (Safe Emergency Care)
- Wildlife encounters and the law (Cape Nature Conservation)
In addition to the above, OVERBERG WILDNFREE plan on expanding our manpower as the need arises, by strictly employing only Overberg locals, that is sure to assist in combatting the unemployment numbers in our area. As these empoyees could be anyone from unskilled to skilled, to some education, we would love to improve their skills by offering especially unskilled employees a chance to better their status, by sending them on appropriate courses related to the work of OVERBERG WIKDNFREE.
4) SAFE AND HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
OVERBERG WIKDNFREE strives to have a positive impact on the health and safety of the local community, educating and promoting a green lifestyle attitude towards our beautiful nature and environment. Therefore we will introduce more and more "green" control methods for ex pest control (Owls-In-Need project) where owl-friendly rat traps would be introduced to restaurants, businesses and individuals, thereby cover a multipurpose benefit to various parties, NL:
- Humane (no-kill) pest control (mice and rats)
- Supplying poison-free food for owl rehabilitators for their sick or injured owls
- Prevention of secondary poisoning of our wild owls in the area
- Attracting more owls to our area, by supplying, installation and maintenance of Owl houses.
These are just examples of more projects like this to follow, that would contribute to a healthy and safe Overberg
MEDICAL WILDLIFE EMERGENCY CARE
We are also proud to mention that we have Dr Liesel Trollope on board, that are willing to offer her time and expertise to assist with medical emergencies that might arise. It is a very big honour for us and sure to be of tremendous help when the basic care of an injured animal is not enough for survival.
As we are totally dependent, at this stage, on the support of the community, we are planning to raise funds for our work through sponsored projects and fundraising events.
Therefore we are asking the community of Overberg to support us in any way you see fit, and we welcome any assistance from digging holes for roadsigns, to collecting trapped mice from everywhere around Overberg.
We look forward to work together with our local authorities, sponsors and supporters to make Overberg a better place for all that shares it, humans as well as animals.
THE STORY OF OVERBERG WILDnFREE
It was a beautiful morning on Friday 7 August 2015, when I happen to experience probably the worst day of my life. As an employee of a nature conservation company, I'm used to driving colleagues to and from reserve entrances on gravel roads and way into raw nature...where a lot of wild beauties feel safe and have inhabitated the area. One of these areas being Stanford. On my way to drop of an employee this morning an awesome and at the same time most horrible picture unfolded in front of me. As usual I was driving at about 40 to 50km/h when we suddenly saw the pair of caracals hopping out from the bushes along the road and were running just along the road in front of our vehicle. I slowed down even more so to have a good look as this is a rare sight to see a male and female together. Caracals, as I learned this morning , never walk in a pair....unless it is mating season....which it is now.
Now I understand why I always just saw one of them at a time in the mornings or late afternoons when driving that road.
As the vehicle approached the two, suddenly the two crossed the road right in front of the bakkie....there was no time to stop. They were to close. They rolled in underneath the bakkie and I knew it was not good...as I stopped and got out of the bakkie....there they were. The male was convulting .....it was a horrible horrible site....the young female was laying in the road, in tremendous pain, and trying to move out of the road to the side...but she was unable to.....the wheels of the bakkie had hit her back and her pulvic bone and both hips were broken...she was paralysed down from her lower back...! As I moved closer, she used her front body and legs to pull her paralysed back part away ....this site, together with her mating male a few meters further, was the most horrifying experience I have ever had...but even more worse, here was just NOTHING I could do!
I felt like running to her and embraced her and tell her how sorry I was, that I did not mean to hurt her, hit her, or to kill her mate...but she was in stress and tremendous shock...
All I could do was to call for help from the experts...
I got hold of Lizaene from Panthera Africa, a wild cat sanctuary in Stanford. What an extraordinary woman. Soft and kind-hearted, Lizaene wasted no time and was there in a very short period. She tried to captivate the female but this lady was in too much shock and pain to let us even touch her. She suggested that we call Dr Marc Walton from Hermanus Animal Hospital in an attempt to see if she could be rescued.
Dr Marc Walton was reached, cancelled two appointments and came in a flash....the dearest man, with a heart for animals I learned, but also for people. He immediately calmed me down before approaching the female who now was at the side of the road and very much in shock pain and agony. The news was devastating...she will have to be put down...there was nothing he could do. She would have have to lived paralysed for the rest of her life. She would not be able to hunt ever again and that is all she ever knew...so she would not be able to be rehabilitated.... And the seriousness of her injuries was fatal.
Dr Marc put this beauty down so softly, so quick and with so much care, knowledge and respect, it was hair raising beautiful to experience his love and respect as he chooses to inject the last medicine directly to a cardiac vein...to make it as easy for her ( and all of us there) as possible.
We all left the scene, but my heart was broken. I just could not move on. I cried for days, and even weeks. I stopped at the spot about twice or three times week and just broke down in tears again and again.
Lizaene from Panthera Africa offered to bury the two on their premises. She made a beautiful grave, with a little cross, and wrote "Lived wild and free"
I tried to connect a name to these two beauties, to have something personal to hold on to, and there it was, their names were Wild and Free!! Wild for the male , and Free for the female. ....
And this, dear friends, was how Overberg WildnFree and the project for the caracal signs on this road and other roads where the risk is also high, was born.....
Please support us to warn other motorist (that are actually speeding, not driving 40 or 50km per hour like I was, but up to 100km per hour! ) to PLEASE mind our beautiful wildlife, and drive slow in THEIR territory. We are the intruders, not them. They are suppose to be there, we not.