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  • During our summertime visit to the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces we saw a lot a wildlife. Elephants, kudu, warthogs, ostriches, zebras. All gorgeous, yes, even the warthog,

    But I took a special liking to a domestic animal. The Nguni cow.

    These particular animals were part of a herd on the Skeiding Guest Farm just outside of Heidelberg. Even though I was as sick as a dog with a particularly venomous cold I picked on the airplane coming to South Africa, I dragged myself onto the farm truck for an early morning tour. Skeiding farms ostriches as well as cattle and I think Neels was expecting his guests to be more interested in those beasts. Indeed they were hilariously funny, running as a group over a ridge to see if there was food to be had.

    But it was the cattle that truly appealed to me. The Nguni have been farmed by the native Africans for centuries, and have the deep cultural significance that such an association is bound to create. Beyond that, though, they are extremely well adapted to their environment. European breeds, larger and bulkier, can fail to thrive - often falling prey to diseases carried by ticks. The blood of the Nguni, Neels informed us, has a naturally high urea content that counters ticks. They also live longer and are more fecund than European breeds. More and more Afrikaaner farmers are switching to the Nguni for very sound economic reasons.

    Me, I just think they are beautiful.
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