skip to Main Content


As a game reserve with a strong focus on sustainability and responsible conservation, it’s not unusual for there to be game capture and release projects at Summerplace. But we recently held our largest game capture of almost 100 Wildebeest, which was quite spectacular. Here’s why we needed to remove them from Summerplace.

There are more than 40 species of large mammal at Summerplace Game Reserve and Wildebeest was one of the biggest populations of any species on the reserve. However, it was determined that they pose a health risk to our Boran cattle, so the decision was made to remove the Wildebeest.

We have previously written about the essential role of Boran cattle at Summerplace. With a growing Boran herd and our grass-fed beef production plans being fine-tuned, the cattle occupy an important multi-function role. Unfortunately, we lost a few cattle over the past year to Snotsiekte, or Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF).

Wildebeest are principal carriers of Snotsiekte primarily the calves between the ages of 4-6 months. With the calving season imminent (October/November), it was important to remove the Wildebeest from Summerplace as soon as possible as the disease is infectious. The capture and removal happened over two days in September and included air (helicopter) and ground activation.

“While it’s nice to have Wildebeest on the reserve, they’re not essential to the ecosystem. One of our priority species is Tsessebe, which is a short-grass grazer and because Wildebeest are quite selective short-grass grazers, they compete with the Tsessebe. And since Wildebeest are tough and hardy, they usually win the grazing battle,” said John Mackie, Summerplace Game Reserve Conservationist.

“Normally this wouldn’t be a concern, but with large populations of both Roan Antelope and Sable Antelope and with late rains and high temperatures being forecast over the next couple of months, it helps reduce the overall grazing pressure on the reserve. But primarily, it was in the best interests of the cattle to mass capture and remove the Wildebeest, which should remove the Snotsiekte risk completely,” added Mackie.

“The capture was actually very efficient. The capture team is experienced and they just needed two mornings,” said David Baber, Summerplace Game Reserve co-owner.

“They set up a boma which has a wide entry and then gradually narrows to funnel the animals towards the trucks. The chopper pilot finds them and then chases them towards the boma. As the animals move through the boma, the capture crew members close curtains behind them to ensure none try to run back. Once they have moved up the ramp into the truck, they get given a very mild tranquiliser to help them stay calm for the trip to their new home.

“Because there were quite a lot of Wildebeest and the chopper can’t chase them for too long, they did one capture on the East side of the reserve on the first morning, relocated the boma to the West side that afternoon; and did the second capture the next morning. They rounded up most of the Wildebeest with a really slick operation. There are a handful still here which we will move ourselves, in time,” added Baber.

Back To Top