Seretse Club Chairman
Colin Engelbrecht and his wife Marisa farm near Hartbeesfontein in the North West province. They have transformed their once marginal farm into a successful game farming operation over the past 11 years. During 2009, they introduced the first exotic game onto the farm. There are now 12 plains game species, 10 exotic game species and 10 predator species on the ranch. Klein Buisfontein Ranch strives for breeding excellence through thorough research and the use of pure genetics which is the key to breeding excellence.
Wildebeests or Gnus are closely related to cattle, goats and sheep. From a biological and ecological viewpoint the animal is a keystone species - one that has shaped and dominated its ecosystem, the semi-arid savannahs of eastern and southern Africa, for probably more than two and a half million years. They prefer savannahs and plains but can be found in a variety of habitats, including dense bush and open woodland flood plains. Wildebeest are capable of reaching speeds of 50 mph (80 kph).
They prefer grass but when it is hard to find they will also eat leaves. During mating season, males do not sleep or eat while sexually active females are nearby. When the rainy season ends in the plains, herds migrate to areas where there are an abundance of water and food. The term “wildebeest” actually refers to two species, Connochaetes taurinus and C. gnou, thought to have split from a common ancestor at least a million years ago.
In 1983 an estimated 50 000 to 80 000 wildebeest perished in Botswana as a result of a severe drought, causing a large-scale migration of animals. Due to the wildebeest’s exceptional adaptability – both physical and behavioural – to adverse conditions, the wildebeest (including Seretse’s) migrated from Botswana in a southerly direction. Some settled among existing populations in the Molopo area. This area stretches from the adjacent areas in Botswana along both sides of the Molopo River (Botswana and South Africa), through the North West and Northern Cape provinces, up to the Kalahari.
The Seretse wildebeest (C.taurinus), meaning ‘mud’ in Tswana, is a wild animal that occurs naturally. It has a distinct phenotypical difference (colour) and is genetically similar to the original wildebeest species. The general colour of a mature animal is dark chocolate or mud-brown with a tint of grey. There are also a number of vertical stripes present on the neck. In certain light conditions the animal appears to be reddish copper in colour. The beard, mane and tail hair are a yellow, reddish copper. The face is a mix of yellow colour between the horns that runs down to the eye line with dark brown to reddish copper hair on the nose bridge, almost like a fringe.
There is no black hair to be found on the animal. Calves are born a light fawn colour and will start showing the adult Seretse colour characteristics approximately two months after birth.
Seretse wildebeest can be successfully bred by pairing a Seretse bull with a Seretse cow/heifer. The offspring will breed true to the parents in all aspects. Pairing a Seretse bull with a common or blue wildebeest cow/heifer will result in a split. These Seretse split heifers can then be paired with a Seretse bull to reproduce Seretse offspring which are true to the breed (keep in mind the 50% rule). Seretse wildebeest cannot be successfully paired with a golden wildebeest; the offspring have the traits of the common or blue wildebeest.
To date there are 130 Seretse wildebeest recorded in South Africa. Pedigrees of these animals are fairly new, but will increase as more DNA tests of these animals become available. This will ensure that the animals are kept true to their traits.
Wildlife breeders, having realised this unique natural variation of wildebeest, have formed a Seretse wildebeest club to preserve this very unique animal. Members are committed to keeping strict records of the progeny of these beautiful animals. Visit our website at www.seretsewildebeestclub.co.za for more information regarding the rare Seretse wildebeest.