The word “asante” is an African word that means thank you, an appropriate name for the Exotic Game Ranch owned by Dan and Darlene Cabela and situated in the Texas Hill Country.
Dan is the son of Dick & Mary Cabela who, in 1961, began building their empire by selling hand-tied- fishing-flies via mail order. As the years passed, Dick and Mary traveled often to Africa and soon fell in love with everything that they saw there, passing this love on to their children.
Dan has taken this passion even further by establishing an Exotic Game Ranch which is designed to protect and reproduce various endangered plains game animals from Africa. These animals are well fed and cared for and then many are sold to other Exotic Game Ranches around the US.
So why are we here???? Michael has always been interested in conservation biology and has been extremely excited about a project called “24 Lions” which is sponsored in part by the Cabela Family Foundation. This project has re-introduced lions to an area in Mozambique where they once roared freely but were decimated by civil war and poaching. In 2018 the 24 lions were released into their new home and have already grown to a grouping of 60, so obviously the plan is working!!
Michael is proposing to write a book about this and other projects that have been developed in the Zambeze Delta area in Mozambique and Dan invited us to spend a few days at the ranch to talk further about it.
The ranch is located in……
….about 30 minutes out of downtown Austin, Texas.
We arrived at the ranch on Wednesday afternoon and were invited in to this magical world……
We settled into our accommodation and then traveled to Dan and Darlene’s beautiful home. My first view was of this wonderful yard art…..
….and I knew that we would be meeting with kindred spirits!!!
The first order of business was a video interview between Michael and Dan, with yours truly behind the camera. When this photo was taken, they were happily discussing whether or not the microphones would pick up their stomach growling!!….
We enjoyed a fun dinner with the couple and settled back in our suite for a good night’s sleep. Early the next morning, Dan arrived in his off-road vehicle and we set out on the most fun part of the trip…..viewing the animals in all of their glory!!!
Almost the first one that we saw was this Mountain Bongo Bull, a species that is definitely on the endangered list…..
As I looked thru the binoculars at his glorious coloring I couldn’t help but see a quilt in the making….does that really surprise you??
The results of the breeding program were all around as we saw numerous calves sticking close beside their Mom…..
Dan told us that it was unusual to see this many Impala crossing at the same time……
Along with the African animals, Dan has a thriving crop of White Tailed Deer. This buck, still in velvet, was glorious against the morning sun……
The Kudu is one of my favorite animals, from his spiraling horns, to his big inquisitive ears and down to the striped hair on his neck ruff…..
This is a large grouping of Grant’s Gazelle…..
I love the coloring on these animals, especially their butts!! I feel like the white makes them look as if their body is square. It was an interesting sight when there were a large number of them all together.
Even though these are gorgeous animals, this Grant’s Gazelle buck prefers to sit at the fence and watch the Dama Gazelle’s in the next pasture……
……MEN……who can figure them out!!!
These two Roan Antelope apparently knew that they were photogenic and wouldn’t let us pass until the requisite number of photos had been taken!!!……
These white Addax are a Saharan desert species…..
One of the highlights was getting to see this Sitatunga Antelope…..
….but things got even more exciting when she was joined by a VERY young calf….
Dan told us that these animals are fairly new to the enclosure and were not normally this outgoing!!
At one point he casually pointed to the left and said that there is Grey Fox over there. I used the binoculars and finally found the animal and have NO idea how he saw it with bare eyes, while driving!!!
Even though this is a commercial enterprise, when you listen to Dan talk, you can hear the shear delight that he takes in being able to help preserve these gorgeous creatures. His concern for them came out several times during the tour.
Firstly there was a group that normally had 6 animals but only four were present. He would not leave the area until he found the other two and convinced himself that they were safe and secure.
Then, when a group of buzzards was seen on one of the fences he immediately headed that way to make sure that no animal had died during the night.
And as further proof, tomorrow I will tell you the tale of Dak the orphaned Addax!!!
Stay tuned for more………….