Early last year a lonely black rhino bull calf was spotted roaming at Addo Elephant National Park. Investigation soon revealed that its mother had been killed by an elephant. Game ranger Wayne Erlank and veterinary surgeon Piet Morkel captured the orphan and arranged its transfer to Karen Fedler’s Animal Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) in Pretoria.. The calf’s sad and pinched face reminded Piet of Badger, a strange little dog once owned by one of his daughters. That’s how the little rhino got its name. At ARC Karen managed to bottle feed the huge baby. Within short he brightened up and began befriending humans and domestic animals. Badger even made an appearance on the 50/50 TV programme where his antics stole hearts. But everyone was only too aware that Badger was growing fast and would not exactly be a comfortable pet around one’s feet. An adult black rhino bull tips the scales at about 1 500 kg. So National Parks officials decided to relocate and resettle him in the wild. The Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West was chosen as a new home. Badger arrived at 03h00 on December 8, probably feeling as if he had been orphaned for a second time. After travelling for hours in a tranquillized state, he staggered out into in a special bouma in a daze. But soon the sounds and smells of his new world began to intrigue Badger. Was there a trace of another rhino on the fresh morning breeze? Yes. Only a few days before the Karoo National Park had released Suurkop into the wild. He was the first East African black rhino, Bicornis mit-Bali, at the park. “Suurkop is settling down well,” says park manager Leighton Hare. “While he was in the bouma we implanted a transponder in his horn so that his movements can be monitored. Oddly enough, he also comes from Addo Elephant National Park.”


‘n Nuwe manier om die Karoo to sien word nou aangebied deur Shongologo Express. Toeriste reis op ‘n luukse trein vanaf Namibia tot in die Kaap. Al langs die roete word woestyn ervaringe in afgelee plekke per voertuig aangebied. Die maatskappy bring sy eie voertuie en gidse saam op die trein. “Vir die meeste reisigers is dit ‘n besondere ervaring,” se Shongololo se Leon Plutsick en Des Lubbe. Tydens die rit van 20 dae besoek hulle ook die Groot Karoo. Die wat hierdie ondervinding wil ervaar verlaat die trein by Hutchinson, en ry oor die uitgestrekte vlaktes na Graaff Reinet en Beaufort-Wes waar hulle staptoere deur die dorpe geniet. Hulle besoek ook die Vallei van Verlatenheid en die Karoo Nasionale Park voor hulle weer op Prins Albertweg by die trein aansluit.


With the purchase of Paalhuis farm, next to Grantham, the Karoo National Park has grown by a further 5 000 hectare. “The park’s total area has doubled since I arrived two years ago,” says manager Leighton Hare. “In fact, in the past year we have extended our borders by 8 000 hectares. The extra space is needed to accommodate big animals such as rhino, which are being introduced into our mix.” A herd of 14 East African black rhinos will arrive within short. “These plans have unfortunately forced the closure of the Springbok Hiking Route, but the highly-acclaimed hiking huts will remain part of our product mix,” says Leighton. “We aim to offer these to visitors seeking wilderness camping experiences. They have unrivalled views across the Karoo and good facilities.”


Ministers, VIPs, colourful historical characters, wildlife and ghosts all played a part in boosting the Great Karoo during the festive season. They were interwoven in a highly successful promotion that ensured a successful season. The campaign started with Mr Piet Meyer, Minister of Transport, officially unveilling the first “Welcome to the Western Cape” sign at Three Sisters. Provincial Administration Director, Niel Barnard, Departmental Chief, Mike Spence, and Provincial Traffic Chief, Sherman Amos, then launched the Arrive Alive Campaign at Krom River. A TV programme on the Karoo National Park drew excellent response, as did a series of radio talks. Johan Rademan, of Bon Voyage on Radio Sonder Grense (RSG), discussed the Karoo with Western Cape Tourism Board Development Committee member Marius Bergh, who later also discussed the history of Matoppo Country Inn in a talk with Daniel Hugo. Rose Willis wove ghost stories and historic tales into an interview with Marinda Claasen when Radio KFM broadcast from Beaufort West for three days. Rose also discussed the Anglo-Boer War Centenary and the restoration of the Beaufort West blockhouse with Caryn Voigt on RSG’s Fokus programme. To set the ball rolling for 1999, the January issue of Getaway magazine has a feature on Prince Albert and Sarie is to publish a supplement, written by Alida Vos, on lifestyles in the Karoo. Once the holiday rush died down and figures were collated, everybody smiled – on average the accommodation figures showed an increase of 40 per cent. Traffic flow at peak times topped I 800 vehicles an hour.


Rupert Speyer van Engeland het onlangs in Beaufort-Wes besoek afgelê om meer oor sy oupa-grootjie, Jeremais Benedictus Auret, uit te vind. Auret is in 1840 aangestel as sekretaris vir Beaufort-Wes se magistraat en siviele komissaris, Jacobus Johannes Meintjies. Hy was 19 jaar oud, en het in Matoppa Huis, waar Rupert Speyer ook tuis gegaan het, gewoon en gewerk. In sy dagboek vertel Jeremais van sy daaglikse lewe en ‘n besoek van Sir Andries Stockenström, Meintjies se skoonpa, van wie hy ‘n horlosie as present ontvang het. Rupert het ook ontdek dat die Oertcls, ook deel van sy famine, vir Andries Pretorius geld geleen het om die Groot Trek te begin. Sy navorsing het heelwat interessante ou Karoo stories opgelewer wat van tyd tot tyd in Round-up sal verskyn.


The first complete fossil of one of the fiercest animals of prehistory was recently found in the Karoo. This gorgonopsid, one of the world’s first sabre-toothed animals, was discovered by Dr Roger Smith, palaeontologist at the S A Museum in Cape Town, and Professor Peter Ward, of the Department of Geology at Washington University in the USA. The discovery was made while they were engaged in studies on the great extinction during the Permian Triacid Period. “This was the mother of all extinctions,” explains Roger. “We are working at several sites, mainly from Graaff Reinet to Bethune, in an effort to find clues to its causes. The gorgon, as it is popularly known, was found the day before we were due to leave. As this news coincided with the announcement of the find of the homonid at Sterkfontein, we received a great deal of publicity. Gorgons were the world’s first sabre-toothed animals and the largest predators of the late Paleozoic Era. They were fierce, ferocious creatures with lizard-like skins. They varied in size. Some weighed as much as 360kg, while others were as small as house cats. The fossil we found has a 47cm long head and a 2,5m long curved spine. We will excavate it in March and bring it to the museum for further study. This fossil will enable us to discover how tall these creatures stood and whether they walked with a reptilian gait, among other things. Since this discovery, many farmers in the Karoo have called to report possible fossil sites on their farms.”


Die wat dink dat die platteland maar altyd stil en dooierig was sal nogal verbaas wees om te veneem dat Murraysburg in die 1800s lewendige debats- en musiekverenigings gehad het. Volgens koerantberigte was uitstekende en gewilde debatte vanaf 1865 gehou. Onder die onderwerpe was Stoom Engins, die Waarde van die Gedrukte Woord, Het die Noordelike State van Amerika die reg gehad om oorlog teen die Suide te verklaar? Merino Skape of Angorabokke? Winter of Somer, watter is die beste in die Karoo? En nog meer. In 1877 het Dr H Wessidlo, die dorp se Duitse geneesheer, ‘n musiek- en koraalvereniging gestig. Hy was ‘n uitnemende tjello-speler en sy vrou ‘n uitstaande pianis. Die vereniging het elke jaar drie publieke konserte opgevoer, onder andere Handel se Messiah. Volgens ‘n ou program was die vereniging nog in 1888 aan die gang.


“Contrary to the story told by some in Prince Albert, Lance Corporal John Boyd and Johannes Klue could not have killed each other at Klaarstroom during the Anglo-Boer War,” says researcher Taffy Shearing. Research has revealed that Boyd, a Scottish sharpshooter, hailed by all who knew him as a “great patriot,” was killed near Kriedouw Pass. “According to Sharrad H Gilliert, who wrote Rhodesia and After, Boyd was the only casualty of this skirmish near Klaarstroom early in 1901.” says Taffy. Gilliert states: “The enemy (Boers) were reported to be in possession of Klaarstroom. Colonel Parke sent men stationed near Kriedouw Pass towards the village in an effort to draw the enemy out. Two parties of 20 men approached the village. They captured three enemy scouts on its outskirts, but this did not deter Captain McDowell. He led his men into the village only to find the enemy massing in numbers a short distance away. In danger of being outflanked, the British retired and the Boers gave chase. The two British parties retreated in turns, one keeping the enemy engaged while the other galloped back and took up station to cover the retirement of the first. Disaster almost struck when one section delayed its departure too long and found themselves under crossfire. Colonel Parke would have been killed or captured had not Sergeant-Major Jackson and Trooper Mobsby dismounted and covered him until he was in the saddle again. In this clash the Sergeant Major was captured and taken prisoner along with eight men whose horses had been shot. Lance Corporal Boyd was killed. The enemy flocked out towards the ridge. As they came within range the British opened fire with howitzers. The Boers fled in panic.”


Die Anglo-Boereoorlog het platteland dokters baie besig gehou. In Prins Albert was daar drie dokters, skryf Dr P Luttig in sy dagboek. “Dit was ‘n besige tyd vir ons almal. Daar was ‘n vreeslike aantal koorsgevalle. Dit was droog en die windpompe het min gewerk. Fonteine en damme op sommige plase het met koorskieme besmet geraak en almal op die werf is aangesteek. Daar was baie emstige gevalle van hoe koors, bloeding, loping en hart komplikasies. Daar was ook ‘n geval van haarsingsvliesontsteking, maar gelukkig was dit nie doodelik nie. Ons moes ook vir die Engelse manskappe sorg. Die werk was uitputtend. Onthou dit was in die dae voor motors en telefone, en die perde was opgekommandeer. In sy praktyk het Dr Mearns twee perde en ‘n swaar kar gehad. Ons moes dikwels baie vêr slap, partymal in gure weer. Vir my dienste het ek £12/10/00 ‘n maand gekry omdat ek onder kontrak was aan Dr Mearns. Die loskoopprys vir die kontrak was £500. Dit was opwindende tye. Ek onthou nog die dag toe Dr Mearns in die apteek gekom het, die deur stilletjies toegemaak het, en my die groot geheim meegedeel het dat die Engelse vir Kommandant Scheepers gevang het.”


A strange story about Boers and Freemasons in Beaufort West during the Anglo-Boer War is puzzling several researchers. One evening a small band of Boers apparently appeared on the outskirts of Beaufort West, hailed the town guards and expressed the desire to attend a Lodge meeting that night. Permission was granted, provided they agreed to leave their rifles behind and be blindfolded. This was agreed and they were taken to the Lodge. After the meeting the Boers were again blindfolded, escorted to the outskirts of town and their rifles returned. The mounted men then simply melted into the dark. Perhaps these men were local residents, but many outsiders are puzzled about whether the power. of the brotherhood of Freemasonry was then sufficient to have prompted those Boers to risk being captured and possibly executed. Unfortunately, Lodge records covering that period are missing. Convenient? Does anybody out there know the true facts?


When the Boa War broke out, many successful photographic magazines already existed. But then new ones mushroomed to report on the fighting. Happenings and action in the Central Karoo were captured by a Mr Townsend, a Beaufort West photographer. Most professional photographs of the time are of excellent quality, but curiously stilted. The reason for this was the difficulty of getting close to the fighting. “The effective range of the rifle far outdistanced that of the camera,” says Emanoel Lee in To The Bitter End. Soon sets of stereoscopic photographs became all the rage. The Underwood brothers in America hit on an idea of selling sets made to look like a pair of books. These were entitled “The South African War through the Stereoscope.” Each contained 150 photographs, but pictures were constantly added, so it is rare now to find two boxes containing the same material.


When Prince Albert cheese-maker Louis le Roex moved to Scheepersrus farm he also wanted a more ethnic name for his products. Research revealed that the nearby pass, commonly known as Kareedouw, was originally called “Kriedouw” and was an ancient route from one valley to the next. The early name seemed ideal. To substantiate his research, Louis called on Johan Loock at the University of the Free State for help. “I know the Kriedouw, a natural crossing or neck between Prince Albert and Klaarstroom,” said Johan, “According to Toponymica Hottentotica the name is of Hottentot origin, but the meaning is obscure. Some maintain the word refers to the presence of white-coloured quartzite rock and that it means ‘white gorge’. Others are of the opinion that it is a corruption of the Hottentot word ‘karegadaob’ meaning path (daob) rich in (-ga-) karee (Rhus.spp) trees. Researchers agree – douw means path, spoor, kloof, passage or neck, i.e. a place where a mountain or watershed may be easily crossed. The name of this pass is shown as ‘Kriedouw’ on all old maps. Perhaps road authorities should revert to the original.” These explanations were quite sufficient for Louis. Under the Kriedouw label he now markets a mature full-fat feta, a creamy Brie-style spreadable blue cheese, a mild, creamy, Dutch-style sweetmilk and a uniquely-flavoured Caerphilly. This is made from an ancient recipe that originated in Wales where the cheese formed part of the staple diet of coal miners. The high-quality milk for these cheeses comes from a Braunvieh, Brown Swiss, herd recently brought to the Karoo from Natal.


Ervare voëlkenner en gids Christiaan de Wit het Karoo Safaris gestig spesifiek om ‘n reeks eksklusiewe uitstappies aan voëlkykers te bied. Onder hulle is ‘n voëlkyk-uitstappie gerig op Karoo spesialiteitspesies en ‘n skemerkelk en nagrit om diertjies en nagvoëls te besigtig. Dan is daar ‘n toer van die Swartberge, of van Gamkaskloof, ‘n veldbraai, of ‘n sirkel roete om die voëltjies in die Oudtshoorn en Prins Albert gebiede te sien. “Ek wil graag hê dat diegene wat saam ry die Karoo ontdek en geniet. Ek is dus geduring besig om nuwe toere te ontwerp en enige toer kan natuurlik aangepas word na verlang van die toeriste,” se Christiaan.


Beaufort West’s William Quinton Wild Bird Club plans some interesting outings for January and February. “There’s an increased interest in birds of the Karoo,” says secretary Japie Claassen. “Visitors to the Karoo during the festive season were amazed at the variety of birds in this area. The swirling swallows and birdlife of Beaufort West’s Springfontein dam delighted most. Interested birders can join our annual water bird count at Sakriverspoort from January 15 to 17. Over these days we will also study the movement of swallow families. It’s a weekend not to be missed, particularly at the affordable price of R35 per person per night. On February 6 we’re arranging a bird count at the Beaufort West Bird Sanctuary, and from February 19 to 21 we’re planning a visit to the Laingsburg area.”


Karoo-navorser Dries Swanepoel het onlangs heelwat rotstekeninge en ou grafte in die Laingsburg gebied ontdek. Die rotstekeninge is aan die voet van Perdekop, ‘n steil alleenstaande ronde koppie op Springfontein, die plaas van Josef le Roes. “Die tekeninge en kalenders is op rotse onder aan die koppie,” se Dries, eienaar van Geelbeksbrugplaas en die Blokhuis oomag-geriewe. “Bo-op die koppie is ‘n plat area met Boesmanskerms, kleipotskerwe en ‘n rand van gepakte klippe. Dit was heelwaarskynlik eens op ‘n tyd ‘n deel van ‘n verdedigingstelsel. Op dieselfde plaas is daar ook ‘n netjies gegraveerde grafsteen met die woorde: ‘Pieter Leenders B.Z. in den jeugdigen ouderdom van der elf jaren door een Boeschyesman gruwelik vermoord op den 20 Julie in het jaar onse dese Here 1871.’ Op Deesweesfontein is die graf van ene P Gouws, wie volgens die opskrif op 25 Maart, 1818, deur ‘n leeu doodgebyt is. By Kookfontein, op Nuwejaarskraal, plaas van mnr Ben van der Westhuizen, is daar ‘n kliphuisie waar vier huisgesinne in die laaste eeu gewoon het. Volgens opskrifte op grafte daar is agt vrouens en kinders daar vermoor terwyl hulle mans op ‘n jagtog was. ‘n Agtjarige seuntjie het deur ‘n venster geglip en na Springfontein gehaas om hulp te ontbied,” se Dries.