Historical incidence of the larger land mammals in the broader Eastern Cape Province. 2007. Author: CJ Skead; editors: A Boshoff, G Kerley and P Lloyd. Port Elizabeth: Centre for African Conservation Ecology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.


About the book

This book is a second edition of Historical mammal incidence in the Cape Province: Vol. 2 – The eastern half of the Cape Province, including the Ciskei, Transkei and East Griqualand, by CJ Skead, published in 1987. It contains a revised, re-edited and expanded text, additional tables and maps, completely revised species distribution maps, and numerous illustrations.

This unique book brings together a large amount of information, from a variety of otherwise obscure sources – most notably the journals of early naturalists, travellers, hunters and farmers – on the historical distribution of the larger mammal species of the region. These include the herbivores (plant-eaters) – such as the elephant, the rhinoceros and various kinds of antelopes, and the carnivores (flesh-eaters) – such as the lion, the leopard and the hunting dog. Odd records and brief comments on some of the smaller mammals are included.

The book provides information on the status and movements of the game animals, and on the possible early human influences on their populations. It also includes chapters on interesting gaps in distribution patterns of certain species, and species exterminated in, and introduced to, the region. The book incorporates a review of the recent status of the various species. The information in the book enables a fascinating picture to be created of the larger mammals that occupied the highly diverse landscapes of the region at the time when it was being settled by Black and White pastoralists and agriculturalists, mainly from the 17th century onwards.

Interesting and useful interpretations of the information at hand are provided, to help us to understand the intricate relationships between the mammals and their habitats, and the possible reasons for the decrease in range and numbers of many species, and for the increase shown by others. As such, the book is of significant value to scholars, natural scientists, historians, conservation managers and environmental impact assessment practitioners. Important information for the environmentally and economically sustainable development of the burgeoning ecotourism and game-ranching industries in the broader Eastern Cape is made available. Information in the book is also useful for guiding expansion planning of extant protected areas (national and provincial parks, and local nature reserves), and the establishment of new ones, in the region.


The area covered by the book

The area covered by the book encompasses the Eastern Cape as it was prior to the redefinition of the provincial boundaries of South Africa following the first democratic election in 1994. Hence the inclusion of parts of today's Northern and Western Cape provinces.


List of contents

Chapter 1


1.1  Background

1.2  The area covered by the book

1.3  The geographical sectors

1.4  Political boundaries

1.5   Mammal taxonomy and common names

1.6   Names of places and features


Chapter 2

Historical review

2.1   Sector 1:  Gamtoos River to Port Elizabeth

2.2   Sector 2:  Port Elizabeth to the Sundays River (including the Uitenhage and Kirkwood districts)

2.3   Sector 3:  Sundays River to the Bushmans River (Alexandria district)        

2.4   Sector 4:  Bushmans River to the Great Fish River (Albany and Bathurst districts)

2.5   Sector 5:  The Sub-coastal Interior (Somerset East, Bedford, Adelaide and Fort Beaufort districts)

2.6   Sector 6:  The East Cape Midlands (the Karoo)

2.7   Sector 7:  The Border Interior and North-eastern Cape

2.8   Sector 8:  The Ciskei (Great Fish River to the Great Kei River, and the hinterland)

2.9   Sector 9:  The Transkei and East Griqualand (Great Kei River to the Mtamvuna River, and inland)

Chapter 3

Species' occurrence and status: some distributional, ecological and anthropogenic perspectives

3.1  Introduction

3.2  Species’ accounts

            Aardvark (antbear)

            Rock hyrax

            Tree hyrax

            African elephant

            Cape mole-rat

            Cape porcupine

            Greater canerat


            South African ground squirrel

            Chacma baboon

            Vervet monkey

            Samango (Sykes’) monkey


            Ground pangolin (scaly anteater)


            Brown hyaena

            Spotted hyaena

            Hyaena – sp. indet.





            African wild cat

            Black-footed/small-spotted cat


            Small-spotted genet and large-spotted genet

            Mongoose – sp. indet.

            Bat-eared fox and Cape fox

            African wild dog

            Black-backed jackal

            African clawless otter and spotted-necked otter

            Honey badger

            African striped weasel

            Striped polecat

            White rhinoceros

            Black rhinoceros

            Cape mountain zebra

            True quagga

            Burchell’s/plains zebra





            African buffalo

            Greater kudu



            Black wildebeest

            Blue wildebeest

            Red hartebeest


            Blue antelope (extinct)


            Blue duiker

            Red duiker

            Common duiker

            Southern reedbuck

            Mountain reedbuck

            Grey rhebok

            The ribboks, rheboks and rietboks – sp. indet.




            Cape grysbok



Chapter 4

Abundance and movements of game animals

4.1  Abundance

            4.1.1  Abundance of the game animals – an impossible appraisal

            4.1.2  Abundance of the plains game species, and some others

            4.1.3  Extraction of actual figures given by authors                       

            4.1.4  Springbok trekbok numbers

            4.1.5  “…as far as the eye could see…”

            4.1.6  How far can the eye see?


4.2  Short notes on the ecological background to the distribution of the mammals of the region

            4.2.1  An introduction to the ecological influences on game movements

            4.2.2  Fluctuating movements of plains game

            4.2.3  Game trek-paths

            4.2.4  The chopping of bush and forest

            4.2.5  Water availability

            4.2.6  The influence of the Orange River on game movement

            4.2.7  Long grass and plains game

            4.2.8  Effects of fire on game movement

            4.2.9  Influence of disease among wild animals and livestock


Chapter 5

Early human influence: a generalised picture

5.1  Introduction

5.2  The influence and distribution of the San

5.3  The influence and distribution of the Khoikhoi

5.4  The influence and distribution of the Blacks (Cape Nguni, mainly AmaXhosa)

5.5  The influence and expansion of the Whites


Chapter 6

Interesting gaps in mammal distribution patterns

6.1  Introduction

6.2  The Cape gaps

            6.2.1  Kudu to kudu

            6.2.2  Bontebok to blesbok

6.3  The Cape-Orange Free State gaps

            6.3.1  True quagga (extinct) to Burchell’s zebra

            6.3.2  Black wildebeest to blue wildebeest

6.4  The Cape-Natal gap

            6.4.1  Brown hyaena to brown hyaena

            6.4.2  Black rhino to black rhino

            6.4.3  Kudu to kudu

            6.4.4  Southern reedbuck to southern reedbuck

            6.4.5  Cape grysbok to Cape grysbok


Chapter 7

Patterns and trends in the status of the larger mammals

7.1  From the past to the present: trends in status

7.2  Extermination: final incidence of species

7.3  From resident to visitor: the vagrants

7.4  Bringing back the game: re-introductions of exterminated species

7.5  Introduction of alien species: confounding nature's legacy


Chapter 8

Black leopards and Cape lions: two controversial forms

8.1  The ‘black’ leopard

8.2  The Cape lion






Description of the book

This A4-size, hardcover, book contains 583 pages of black and white text, tables, maps and numerous illustrations. It has a full-colour dust cover and gold-foiled title on the hardcover.



The main sponser of the Second Edition is the Museums and Heritage Section of the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture of the Goverment of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.
Generous co-sponsorship was provided by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Trust.
Additional co-sponsorship was made avalable by Mr. Brandon Polley of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  


How to obtain a copy


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Historical incidence of the larger land mammals in the broader Western and Northern Cape provinces (2011).

Historical incidence of the larger mammals in the Free State Province (South Africa) and Lesotho (2013).