The Urban Herd often passes by our home – so often that we actually name individual animals we easily recognise. Here is the Mud Cow, for example, so named because she looks as though she has been splashed with mud. This photograph of her was taken in November 2021 when she was grazing on our pavement.

Late yesterday afternoon she was on the pavement in front of the house next door to ours – this time with a skittish calf in tow.

She was one of a larger group of the Urban Herd we had not seen in the gathering gloom until our return. A few of them are caught in the headlights through the windscreen. There were many more dark shapes in the background that we had to wait for before we could proceed.

From time to time we come across a new-born calf. This one was nestled in the grass while its mother grazed nearby on the hill above our home.

At other times we can hear the mournful bleating of a calf that has become separated from the rest of the herd, like this one a short distance below where we live.

Here is a part of the Urban Herd resting in the park below our house. For some reason – apparently a new mower has been purchased – the municipality recently mowed the grass there for the first time in months. The Urban Herd still pays it regular visits though for there is water from a leak that has been untended for years and plenty of shade for them to lie under while they chew the cud.



  1. How odd! Do these animals belong to someone? Does the government allow such roaming herds? And how do homeowners protect their lawns and gardens from being trampled/eaten?


    • Rumour has it that many of these animals belong to city councillors – this is Africa – so that what started off as only a few cattle roaming the suburbs unhindered (before 1994 this was against the law) has grown into herds of well over forty. Residents have had their gardens trampled – many have now erected fences and gates to keep them out. Nonetheless, any trees, succulents, grass or shrubs growing on the verges are chomped to nothing as these animals move through the suburbs.

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  2. I, too, was wondering if the animals belong to someone. Maybe I would feel different if my lawn were part of the urban herd’s territory, but I love seeing them roam free. I love the idea that calves are not taken away from their mothers. (Unfortunately, at least in the United States, the dairy industry, like the poultry industry, is very cruel.)


    • See my response to dlpedit above. We have become so used to seeing these animals around now that they have simply become part of the suburban landscape.


  3. Hopefully when they are eating your grass they eat enough so you don’t have to mow there. The patterns of their hides make them quite distinguishable. I would probably give all the regulars names.


  4. Jou beeste-fotos laat jul wêreld so rustig klink, Anne. Hier oorkant my waar ek op die stoepie sit, wei ook ń trop. Sal foto neem indien hulle hier verbykom.


  5. Common ground grazing was the norm for centuries, so I suppose this is a continuance of an old tradition. They say the winding streets of our state capital in Boston were once cow paths that wound around Beacon Hill and the Boston Common before they became roads. To drive them is to believe it!


  6. I can understand the destruction they can cause in a carefully tended garden but I do like the idea of a herd roaming free.


    • I heard the Mud Cow bellowing frantically when I set off on an early morning walk: she was sans calf! She was still alone on my return … still without her calf after lunch and there were no other cattle around. Once you name an animal, you can’t help becoming involved … it was SUCH a relief to see her united with her calf late this afternoon. I don’t know where it could have been, but her bellowing has stopped and they looked contented.

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