ABOUT THE HIDES

The Nguni cattle 'The most beautiful cattle in the world'.

 

The ancestors of Nguni cattle were brought by the Nguni people, Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swazi people, during their migration to southern Africa between 600 and 1400 AD. Since then, these animals have played an important social and economic role in the development of these societies and are used as a bride's dowry. The number of animals held by a village or individual determined much of their importance to the rest of the world.

In the 19th century, King Shaka of the Zulus understood this cultural and economic importance and seized control of the Nguni herds on his dominions. Shaka also bred the Ngunis according to colour patterns to produce hides for the several regiments of his army,

Each regiment had a particular skin pattern to identify its members. Black in a shield signifies youth, white age and experience, and red could only be used for married or mixed regiments. His elite personal guard was recognised by pure white, from animals of the royal herd, the inyonikayiphumuli.

The Nguni cattle breed is specific to southern Africa. A hybrid of different Indian and later European cattle breeds, they were introduced by Bantu-speaking tribes to southern Africa during their migration from the north of the continent. Nguni cattle are known for their fertility and resistance to diseases and they are characterised by their multicoloured skin, which can present the most amazing patterns. They are reputed to be the most beautiful cattle in the world!

The Nguni is a small to medium framed animal therefore the hides are smaller than those of other cattle breeds and which increases the cost of the hide.It is important to protect the Nguni cattle not only for it’s cultural value, but as a breed that is much more sustainable in the South African environment opposed to feed lot cattle breeds of the important European species, which require large antibiotic inputs in order to survive in an environment to which they have not adapted.

The length and thickness of the hair varies following the seasons, the shorter the hair the more precise the outline of the patterns creating a graphic effect. When the hair is longer in winter, the wonderful patterns are blurred on the edges and the touch is softer. 

The Zulu people have their own unique system of classification of their cattle. Animals with specific colors and patterns on their hides are given unique Zulu names, which are meant to link the shapes and colors of the cattle with images in nature. This can result in very poetic names which  include “The gaps between the branches of the trees silhouetted against the sky” for a deeply dappled animal, or "The hornbill takes to flight" for a dark beast which shows a flash of white beneath its flank when its walks.

Springbok antilope  'the national animal of South Africa'.

The Springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) is a medium-sized antelope inhabiting the dry areas of south and southwestern Africa and is found in abundance in certain part of the country.

It is also the National Animal of South Africa and is one of South Africa’s most successful game farm animals to breed.

 and is sought after for their beautiful soft hides and tender and tasteful meat as well as for their biltong (dried meat).

Their hides are obtained during the culling season are CITES approved to ensure that there has been no illegal culling or poaching of these pelts.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources classifies the springbok as a least concern species. No major threats to the long-term survival of the species are known is one of the few antelope species considered to have an expanding population.