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Regenerative Grazing

In the latter 20th century, the Waterberg region was little-known, inhabited by large predators and occasional herds of big game. However, farming led to a shift to cattle and crops, with tobacco thriving in the acidic soils. Intensive farming harmed the ecosystem, causing bush encroachment and erosion, ultimately forcing property sales and necessitating diversification.

Amid this, in the 1980s, much of the Waterberg transformed into game farms, with urban entrepreneurs buying properties. However, electrified fences halted migrations, impacting grass diversity and soil quality. The directors of Swebeswebe Nature Reserve addressed this challenge in 2021.

To tackle grass health issues, they turned to controlled grazing, following the Alan Savory method. This practice, not new but successful globally, involves mimicking the impact of large predator-controlled herds.

Through daily herd movement, the damage from grazing and hoof action is mitigated, while the ecosystem revitalizes during their absence. Nutrients from manure and urine enhance soil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swebeswebe adopted this approach, using 150 Nguni cows to replicate the historic role of buffalo and Blue Wildebeest. The Nguni cows' agility and browsing tendencies make them suitable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, challenges emerged, including cow handling and fence placement. A mobile electric camp controls the herd, powered by solar panels. Cattle are sheltered at night in a canvas kraal, and herders are housed alongside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a year, positive changes emerged, including revived grasses and tree growth.

While challenges persist, Swebeswebe's journey with regenerative grazing demonstrates promising ecological improvements. The flexible model's positive impact on the reserve's ecosystem is evident through healthier grasslands and increased biodiversity.

The Nguni herd grazing on Swebeswebe

Temporary canvas kraal at night

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