Western Cape Wine Tour

20 December 2011 --- The area near Cape Town is ideal for growing fruits, especially grapes, so there are many, many wine farms. My Chobe partners, George Barbour and Richard Rodriguez, came to Cape Town on the same schedule, so we are still hanging out together. I was added to their wine tour, a delightful day. We went to three wineries and a rapter rehabilitation/cheetah outreach center. Strawberries and lavender are grown here. A strawberry farm allows the public to pick and has very interesting scarecrows.

lavenderStrawberry Scraecrowstrawberry scarecrow

The Dutch came to this area in 1652 and began growing grapes soon after, but our guide, Graham Bell, said they made terrible wines. It wasn't until the French Hugenots arrived after the law allowing them freedom of religion was revoked in France that quality wines were produced. I can attest to the quality of wines and you probably see them on your wine shop shelves as they are shipped all over the world. The colonial Dutch architecture with thatch roof remains and some farmhouses are quite old. The French areas look like New Orleans.

Wine TourDutch architecture

The Rapter Rehabilitation/Cheetah Outreach Center is located on one of the larger wine farms. They take in injured rapters and volunteers rehabilitate them, teaching them to fly and to hunt --- 60% of them have survived in the wild. This is a Jackal Buzzard (Buteo rufofuscus).

Jackass Buzzard

The Cheetah Outreach program takes captive-bred cheetahs and uses them for educational purposes as they cannot survive in the wild. They have a very controlled petting program in which I participated.



They also bred Anatolian Shepherd dogs from Turkey and give them to farmers to protect their livestock from cheetahs, allowing the cheetahs to survive in the wild, a very interesting strategy that might be employed with jaguars in Belize. They report predation decreases from 30 percent before the dogs were introduced to 3 percent afterwards. Cheetahs are the most endangered cat --- of great concern. They are not competing with the larger predators in the protected areas and elsewhere they have tremendous loss of habitat and prey. Their genetic diversity is weakened because populations are fragmented, isolated, and inbred.

Anatolian Shepherds

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