Conservation ‘garden’ of animal skulls is attracting visitors’ curiosity

A NEWLY developed skull park has kids – and their parents – scratching their heads when they visit the Garden Route Game Lodge near Albertinia, west of Mossel Bay.

“We sometimes find skulls and other dried bones when we’re out walking in the veld, and we decided that they could be useful for entertaining and educating our younger guests if we displayed them in an unusual way,” the lodge’s owner, Anthony Doherty, said.

The skulls have been simply mounted on rough poles, which have been erected alongside a demarcated path that winds through a large stand of fynbos, situated between the lodge’s guest accommodation and its restaurant complex.

The idea is that youngsters should follow the path and identify as many of the specimens as possible.

“We love having kids visit us, and we arrange dedicated young rangers programmes for them during the school holidays, but – like our reptile house – this is something they can enjoy at any time of the year,” Doherty said.

The skulls in the collection come from various species of antelope and large cats, and all were found on the reserve.

Mossel Bay Tourism chairman, René Bongers, said attractions like the skull garden make the Mossel Bay area an important wildlife destination for families.

“The fynbos and mountains of the region are becoming better known for the game, birding and botanical experiences they have to offer – and it’s possibly a good thing that this is only starting to happen now, at a time when people are aware of the need to conserve and preserve the environment, because it means the integrity of the area will be maintained. “The skull garden is a great way of introducing young people to their responsibilities in this regard.”

Doherty said the reserve is a fine birding destination, and that it’s also home to lion, elephant, white rhino, buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, bontebok, red hartebeest, kudu, eland, impala, springbok and many smaller mammals, too.

Its conservation programme has attracted considerable interest.

“We might have an elephant skull here one day – who knows?” Doherty said. ©Mossel Bay Tourism

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