Hillcrest’s breeding projects: Buffalo, Impala and Eland

John and Louise Firth for WebAuthor: John Firth — Owner & Managing Director, Hillcrest Game Estates

Welcome to the third in our series of articles presenting insights into the various breeding projects currently taking place at Hillcrest Game Estates.

This article takes a detailed look at Hillcrest’s Buffalo (Kruger and East-Africa), Impala (White Flank and Saddleback) and Livingstone (King Cape) Eland breeding projects.

Hillcrest’s high breeding-standards have been achieved by combining cutting-edge scientific breeding technology such as genomic analysis, estimated breeding values (EBV’s), artificial insemination (AI) and embryo programmes with excellent stockmanship. Hillcrest Game Estates is part of the Firth Group farming enterprise which is already well-known for its superior genetic progress among Brahman and Brangus stud breeders.

Dr. Lubout, specialist genetic advisor for Wildlife Stud Services (WS2) says that Hillcrest’s high standards allow it to excel at its stockmanship, measurements and scientific selection breeding objectives. In Wildlife Stud Services’ 2017 Wildlife Breeders Journal, Dr. Lubout affirms that:

“in wildlife breeding, genetic variation is thus synonymous with adaption to natural environments, survival, disease resistance, and reproduction ability. Wildlife breeders should view genetic variation and the maintenance thereof as the greatest asset.” — (Source:

At Hillcrest, the aforementioned approach to genetic variation rings true to the Hillcrest breeding team—Wildlife bred at Hillcrest truly are our greatest assets.

Kruger & East-Africa Buffalo

When it comes to Buffalo (Syncerus caffer), the primary bloodlines are the Kruger Buffalo in the Wolmaransstad region, and the East Africa Buffalo located at Arc and Ciel in Wellington—Arc and Ciel is a joint-venture partner with Hillcrest Game Estates. Interestingly, East-African Buffalo were originally exported from East Africa to various zoos around the world in the early 1970’s (Source:

Majuba Add3At Hillcrest Game Estates, top bull Majuba 46 3/8” (John Rabie, Chimoyo Wildlife) is a bull of exceptional quality, producing excellent calves and proven progeny to be seen at Chimoyo Wildlife. Majuba was on loan to Hillcrest and has recently been removed from the herd. We wish to thank Mr Johan Rabie most sincerely for his assistance in this regard.

At Hillcrest, the purchase of its female game assortment is suitably facilitated by Wildlife Stud Services (WS2). In this regard, so as to ensure the highest fertility rates, strict selection according to the age of cows at time of first calf, calving intervals and last calf are closely monitored.  Careful attention is paid to performance certificates.

During 2018, Majuba will be replaced by top young breeding bull, Haka (also of Chimoyo Wildlife). His pedigree speaks for itself. He is the brother of Vincimus (Measuring 46” at 4 years of age), his mother Red 26 measured 35” at 8 years of age and Haka himself measured 46” at the age of 4,5 years. This placing him in the Top 10% WS2 raking system and no. 7 in the WS2 overall rakings.

Hillcrest have acquired top genetics from true breeders such as Chimoyo, Romaco, Lumarie, Buffalo Ranch, Nyumbu, Shilanti and Bona Bona.


Impala - Saddleback

The National Geographic has this to say about the Impala species:

Impalas are medium-sized antelopes that roam the savanna and light woodlands of eastern and southern Africa. In the rainy season, when food is plentiful, they may gather in large herds of several hundred animals to browse on grasses and herbs, bushes, shrubs, and shoots. … Impalas are fleet runners who are able to leap distances of up to 33 feet. They use this technique to escape predators and sometimes, apparently, simply to amuse themselves. The impala can also clear bushes and other obstacles by soaring some 10 feet in the air. Typically, a running impala will simply jump over anything in its path. — Source:

At Hillcrest, four breeding programmes are currently in place. Common Impala, Saddleback, Black and White Flank.

Our breeding objectives for all herds include: horn lengths of rams and feminine features in ewes, premium horn spreads, true-to-type white marking on the flanks, big, strong bodies, adaptability to the harsh North West climate, and genetic diversity.

Saddleback Impala breeding herd

The base herd was acquired in 2016.

The breeding programme is progressing well and the herd is well established.

White Flank Impala breeding herd

breeding white flank impalaAt the end of 2017, this new addition to the Impala breeding project started with 3 beautiful white flank lambs that were born within weeks of their arrival.

Our breeding objectives for all herds include:

    • Horn lengths of rams and feminine features in ewes
    • Premium horn spreads
    • True-to-type white marking on the flanks
    • Big, strong bodies
    • Adaptability to the harsh North West climate
    • Genetic diversity

Black Impala breeding herd

Pic BImpalaFour breeding programmes are currently in place. In total, the herd comprises about 100 base ewes and 20 black ewes, as well as numerous other split ewes. During the current 2018 breeding season, these projects were successfully converted to one black breeding herd.

Livingstone (King Cape) Eland

breeding eland1

The Wildswinkel website states that the Livingstone Eland species is “the domain of massive bulls.” A great Livingstone Eland says Ellalien Davey of Romaco Ranch, is all about stripes and the right colour. Davey has this to say about the considerations that the breeder takes into account when breeding with the Livingstone Eland:

“A breeder has to decide which of the two to implement first. Some ranchers initially direct their focus on producing Livingstones with that distinct ‘deep-red’ colour before shifting their attention to breeding animals with more stripes.” — Source:

At Hillcrest, our breeding bull, Sargewas procured from Thithombo Game Breeders.

Sarge is currently running with split Livingstone females and is proving to breed exceptional true-to-type young Livingstone Eland calves.

Our breeding objectives include:

    • Horn lengths of both bulls and cows
    • Premium horn spreads
    • True-to-type markings
    • Big, strong bodies
    • Adaptability to the harsh North West climate
    • We select cows stringently on inter-calf period
    • Genetic diversity
    • Scrotal circumference in males
    • Age to first calving in females

Should you be interested in finding out more about Hillcrest’s game—whether for purchase or breeding—why not contact our team today. We will be happy to respond to your enquiry.


On the lighter side — See Frans Groenewald’s comic-art

Looking for a laugh? On the lighter side we invite you to check out some of Frans Groenewald’s humorous comic-art artistic impressions of Hillcrest’s Buffalo, Impala and Livingston Eland breeding projects.

Buffalo - Majuba

Impala - Black and Whiteflank

Livingstone Eland


Frans Groenewald creates artworks that puts a smile in the heart and mind of the viewer. His studio is situated at the inspirational and scenic Lourensford Wine Estate in the Cape Winelands.

Visit Frans on Facebook: @fransgroenewaldart


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