Ex-Springbok Hennie le Roux's Crown River Safari
Few people do not know Hennie le Roux, ex-Springbok and member of the 1995 Rugby World Cup winning team. However, not many people know that he also owns Crown River Safari, an excellent game farm with a rich landscape that abounds with fauna and flora. Rean Steenkamp recently had the pleasure of meeting the friendly Hennie and talking to him about his passion for nature and his game ranch, and his enthusiasm for bow hunting.
Crown River Safari borders on the Thomas Baines nature reserve, situated in the main water catchment area of Grahamstown at the confluence of two rivers. The dominant river of the two, the Kariega, flows on for a further 40 kilometres to meet the Indian Ocean at Kenton-on-Sea.
Hennie says he always dreamt of buying a game ranch but could only do so after his successful 1995 Springbok rugby tour. He says he has been hunting since he was five or six years old, but he was only introduced to bow hunting eleven years ago when he was in the USA. Since then he has become an enthusiastic bow hunter. “The only thing that compares to bow hunting is trotting out on the field for a match against the All Blacks”, says Hennie. He has hunted much with a rifle and he has had the opportunity to bag a buffalo in Zimbabwe. It was a fantastic experience, he says. However, he enjoys the extra challenge of a walk-and-stalk bow hunt.
Hennie says it is easy to hunt game with a rifle on Crown River Safari, because of the nature of its landscape. “The bow and arrow gives the game a better chance. It levels the playing field a little. Hunting with a bow requires more skill from the hunter – more refinement, so to speak. The hunter has to judge the situation more accurately and make choices more carefully. I must have a little masochism in me, because I prefer hunting the hard way”, he says. He prefers walking-and-stalking and to him the hunt itself, not the kill, is the thrill. “I remember some hunting experiences well where I did not shoot anything, while I have forgotten others where I made a successful kill”, he says.
Crown River Safari is ideal for walking-and-stalking, although there are excellent blinds on the ranch that are strategically placed to be most effective. The nature of the terrain and topography provides well-worn game paths, and the cover lends itself to walk-and-stalk and ambush hunting with the emphasis on getting close. Vantage points on the ranch enable a hunter to virtually plan his whole stalk. The lookout points make it possible to spot game in an open area and then to stalk them under cover of the bush. Since the wind mostly blows in the same direction, there is little chance of the hunter's cover being blown if he approaches game upwind.
Crown River also prides itself in the “MacNab”, the ultimate test. From sun up to sun down, a hunter has the challenging opportunity to catch a fish, shoot a bird and hunt an antelope, all of which is possible for the skillful outdoorsman.
Crown River Safari and Wildlife Reserve is home to the crown eagle, as well as fish eagles and kingfishers –just some of the many bird species nesting along the river banks. Kudu majestically roam the bushveld while zebra graze lazily on the open plains. Nyala and bushbuck appear from the lengthening shadows and largemouth bass glide in the river's rock crevices. Some of the other animals available at the ranch are waterbuck, impala, warthog, bushpig, bontebok, red hartebeest, grey duiker, blue duiker, grysbuck, mountain reedbuck, and a few common reedbuck. Hennie also introduced buffalo on the farm recently.
Crown River Safari boasts a luxurious lodge and a farm house. Laboma lodge, situated on the water’s edge, offers direct access to the water for river cruises, as well as canoeing. Laboma sleeps six to eight persons. It has three bedrooms, including a spacious attic sleeping two or four people, and two and a half bathrooms with separate male and female restrooms. Afternoons are enjoyed watching various antelope and warthog drinking at the water’s edge.
The Farm House, is a typical farm dwelling, situated on warmer upper plain at Crown River Safari. Farm House sleeps eight. It has four double bedrooms and three bathrooms. Zebra and various antelope are regular visitors for their afternoon drink at the waterhole just 60 metres away. The Zuurberg mountain range forms the backdrop to the view from the porch, where a sunset refreshment can be enjoyed.