Cape Town - Robben Island Museum (RIM) is to embark on a major cull of the island’s fallow deer from June 2017 to March 2018.
According to RIM, the culling project - with permission authorised by Cape Nature - is aimed at reducing the number of deer, in line with the carrying capacity of the Island as a habitat.
RIM says the reduction of the population fallow deer will have a positive impact on the condition and health of the remaining animals on the island, as well as ensuring the restoration of endemic vegetation to a point where it will become self-sustaining.
Introduced to the Island in 1963, culling of these indigenous species dates back to the early 90's when the Island was turned into a museum.
"In the past, culling was rarely necessary, because residents hunted the deer for meat and thereby maintained optimal numbers. However, hunting practices were halted in 1990 when the Island was declared a museum," says RIM.
The museum undertook a similar culling exercise between 2009 and 2010, culling about 220 fallow deer, to ensure that the population is maintained.
“We are always sad to see some of our animals go, however, numbers have escalated to unsustainable levels, destroying vegetation and also out-competing indigenous antelope species on the Island,” says Marketing and Tourism Manager of Robben Island Museum, Bongiwe Nzeku.
To ensure that the project is humanely and ethically conducted in terms of all existing culling protocols, RIM says it has engaged the services of an experienced and competent hunter to direct this culling project and daily RIM tourism operations will not be disturbed as this will be an overnight exercise.
“We have engaged with various stakeholders that include the Cape of Good Hope Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and Cape Nature to ensure that the project is completed as humanely as possible,” says Nzeku.
RIM says that the meat harvested during the cull will be used for human consumption and the pelts of the deer are to be used as raw materials in an upcoming craft project conducted on the Island.
“We treasure all of the island’s natural resources and protecting them is our greatest priority. We look forward to them thriving once more,” said Nzeku.
What to read next on Traveller24: