The history of wildlife game breeders


From domestic animals, to farm animals and even plants, breeding is something that is not at all uncommon to our culture. The breeding of animals dates back centuries. Today it is a booming industry that is built on ethics and good practice. Breeding has been used to strengthen the linage of the animal resulting in larger, stronger animals and in the majority of cases breeding has been used for conservation purposes.

Breeding animals in a controlled environment such as on a game ranch first came to the attention of the public in the 1950’s and 1960’s but prior to breeding becoming the norm in our society, some of the oldest records of captive breeding have dated back to early Asia and Europe. This instance of breeding was used to keep animals for entertainment and for display. The more modern forms of captive breeding, and ultimately what has led to the development of game breeders in South Africa, has been conservation.

Captive breeding and conservation

Captive breeding has been able to save animals from the brink of extinction. Pere David’s Deer is one of the most well-known examples of an animal that was saved from being completely wiped out. The animal is native to China and at a time the only herd in China belonged to the emperor. The deer escaped during a flood and were slaughtered by starving people and just a few years after that, the remaining 30 deer were killed by soldiers during a rebellion. However some of the deer had been taken to Europe and they were to be the animals bred to bring the species back from extinction. The animals were bred in captivity and reintroduced to their natural habit for the first time in almost a century in 1985.

Since this time, conservationists have been turning to captive breeding to save numerous species by providing them with a safe place to breed as well as by providing them with breeding partners and the ideal breeding conditions. But breeders who are invested in captive breeding have experienced a number of challenges including genetics, changes in habitat and changes in behaviour. Inbreeding is always a likely problem and it can play havoc in the genetics of the animals. It can weaken the breed and result in the breed never being the same as it once was. Behaviour changes can result in the animal being unable to gather food for itself while loss of habitat can make it incredibly difficult to reintroduce the animal to the wild.

Wildlife game breeders in South Africa

Game breeders are committed to breeding a variety of animals for a number of different purposes. The game that is bred can be used to for conservation purposes or they can be sold onto other game ranches, for breeding and hunting purposes alike. Most of the game breeders have a similar history to that of captive breeding as it is basically the same form of breeding although there might be differences in the purposes of the breeding.

Wildlife game breeders use their unique and experienced skills to ensure that the animals are bred correctly and they have the ability to raise the animals in their native habitat which gives them a better chance of surviving. The animals are unlikely to be released into the wild but they are sold onto other game farms and reserves which provide a similar habitat. In the case of rare animals these reserves will provide a safe habitat in which the animals can continue breeding.  

Hunting is also not an uncommon practice associated with captive breeding and there are various bits of legislation that govern how the hunting of animals bred in captivity can be done ethically. Rare animals require permits to be hunted but regular game such as various types of buck, do not require a permit. While hunting can be a very sensitive topic of discussion, it is not always merely a pleasure expedition. Hunting can be used as a way to keep the animal populations in check as an overabundance of animals in a small area can result in the destruction of the habitat and it could result in there not being enough food for all of the animals. There are many times when hunting will fall under wildlife management and some will even argue that the hunting of wildlife can only benefit the animal population. There is also the argument that hunting will give tourism a boost.

Beyond the protection and conservation of wildlife, game breeders have a long history of providing job opportunities to the local community as well as educating people about the animals that are being bred. Local communities living near a game farm are usually far from the cities and job opportunities are few. Educating the local people about the importance of preserving the wildlife in the area has a history of giving the people a sense of ownership of the animals which makes them more inclined to protect them.

Game breeders can even contribute to the infrastructure of the local community by providing housing and schools. And with an increase in tourism to the area, local game breeders are also known to give the local economy a boost by increasing sales and other revenue brought in by the traveling tourists.

There are very few other ways of protecting the natural habitat of an area than by having a game breeder’s ranch established in the region. These farmers protect the natural habitat so that their animals can thrive and this will in turn benefit the entire region as it prevents environmental destruction and pollution. As part of their long history, game breeders are known to have improve the quality of the areas in which they operate. They take care of the land, preserving it for the next generations.

The history of game breeders is steeped in nature preservation and the conservation of wildlife. At Cottondale Game Breeders we are breeding exquisite beasts for other game farmers as well as for nature reserves. With a history going back many years we know how best to take care of a variety of beautiful animals and we invest in the protection of the land.