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Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Mountain Zebra National Park

Mountain Zebra National Park is situated near Cradock in the malaria-free Eastern Cape and was originally proclaimed in 1937 to save the dwindling Cape Mountain Zebra population. Now, at over 28 000 hectares, the park boasts a conservation success story, protecting over 700 zebra as well as wildlife such as endangered black rhino and cheetah. This is also home to the Aardwolf, Cape Buffalo, Brown Hyaena and Blue Crane.

Various types of accommodation, to suite all needs are available and is serviced daily with bedding, towels and soap provided. In addition, Doornhoek Guest House, a restored Victorian homestead, accommodating 6 persons, three bedrooms, en suite bathrooms (bath), fully equipped kitchen is available.

Caravan and camping sites with communal ablution facilities are equipped with 220V power points. The camping area is sited on a mixture of earth and grass. Lawn-type grass struggles to grow in the park conditions. A maximum of six persons, one caravan with a side tent and one vehicle, or one tent and one vehicle, or one autovilla or one motorised caravan will be permitted per site.
  Mountain Huts
 The Umthombo Mountain Hut can be booked for an overnight stay via the Park Reception, Tel (048) 881 2427 / 3434, email: The huts are ideal for a secluded getaway and to experience the tranquil Karoo atmosphere. These huts can only be accessed with 4x4 or 2x4 (with diff lock) vehicles. Each hut has two bedrooms, one with double bed and one with two single beds, and a “hikers bedroom” with 6 bunk beds (own bedding required). The kitchen is equipped with a gas stove, solar-powered fridge/freezer and cutlery, crockery & cooking utensils. A hot water shower and toilet are located outside the hut. There is an outside braai area as well as indoor braai area.
 There is a 4x4 trail, self-drive game viewing as well as guided walks and tours.
· Fully licensed a la carte restaurant, also serving light refreshments.
· Shop where curios and basic commodities may be purchased.
· No ATM facility available in the park. The closest bank facilities are available in the town of Cradock (24km from the park).
· Two picnic sites with braai facilities.
· Swimming pool for day visitors at picnic site.
· Barbecue and ablution facilities for day visitors.
· Swimming pool for resident guests only.
· Petrol and diesel are available in the Rest Camp.

Conference Facilities
· Full conference facilities for a maximum of 30 people.
· Catering facilities available.
Wedding Receptions
· Facilities available for small wedding receptions, maximum 50 people.
· The conference room and restaurant can be booked for the wedding.
· Bookings and enquiries can be made at the park reception.
From prehistoric sites with concentrations of stone artifacts situated along the river banks and rock art panels on the mountain slopes to historic farmsteads and cemeteries, Mountain Zebra National Park has acted as a backdrop for thousands of years of human history.

 From 14 000 to 10 000 years ago, Later Stone Age inhabitants lived in the area now proclaimed as national park. Evidence of their settlements is found along the banks of the Wilger River. There are some 30 sites with pottery and stone artifacts that have been identified through research done by the University of Stellenbosch.
The San people left evidence of their lives about 300 years ago in at least three rock shelters containing rock art in the Park. The paintings show an antelope, baboons, a large cat - possibly a leopard or cheetah - and human figures.

Visitors can view rock paintings in one of the shelters by hiring a Park guide to show them the way. Although a fence protects the painting site, it is quite exciting to be able to stand less than a metre away from ancient artwork.
During the 1800s, British soldiers created a chessboard on the top of Saltpeterskop, a 1514m high koppie in the Park. While hiding out during the Anglo-Boer War, they played chess with their fellow soldiers in the old fort in Cradock, transmitting moves by means of a mirror, which had the official purpose of communicating warning signals.

 The story goes that a certain farmer – unbeknown to the soldiers - picked up the signals and started a game against the soldiers while sitting on the stoep of his farmhouse.

The chessboard and the names of the soldiers are etched onto a flat slab of rock at the top of Saltpeterskop. Names recorded include the 5th Lancashire Fusiliers, the Coldstream Guards and some privates, corporals and a captain.
The legacy of white pioneers who moved into the area and set up farms during the Great Trek of 1836 still stands today. In 1838, one of the first permanent farmhouses in the area was constructed on the farm De Doornkloof, then owned by Hendrik Jacobus van Heerden. The house presently known as Doornhoek, declared a national monument in 1986, was restored and is still used as a guesthouse in the Park. It is popular with those who want a tranquil family getaway overlooking a lake, with spectacular star-gazing vistas at night.

In 1937, 1712 hectares of land was proclaimed as the Mountain Zebra National Park. Thanks to the conservation efforts of farmers in the area, a small herds of the endangered Cape mountain zebra still survived in the area and these provided a founder population for the Park. Paul Michau donated 6 zebra and later Mr H L Lombard donated 11 zebra to the Park. The Park’s Cape mountain zebra herd now numbers over 350 animals.
 The Park at first expanded slowly over the years, but then received a boost with a joint public-private conservation initiative. An artist by the name of David Shepherd kick-started the initiative by donating prints of his works “Mountain Zebra: A Vision in Black and White” in 1996 and “Cheetahs” in 1998 so that money could be raised to buy surrounding farms and expand the size of the Park. SABC’s 50/50 programme shared the story with viewers and encouraged them to support the project by buying prints so that the necessary funds could be raised. The response was fantastic and also caused private individuals and businesses to make donations including The Barbara Delano Foundation, WildAid, Sasol and Vesta Medicines. South African National Parks Trust matched all of the funds that were raised.

Nine surrounding farms were purchased through this process, enabling the Park to expand from 6 536 hectares to 28 412 hectares in size. Following this, black rhino, buffalo and finally cheetah could be introduced to the Park.

1 comment:

Gaelyn said...

Loved that park but we didn't get to see the chess board.