Look at the idyllic scene below of cows grazing on open grassland. The early morning light casts long shadows over the contented herd whilst highlighting the treed hill beyond. Look more closely and you will realize this is no ordinary rural scene.
What you are seeing is an open park below our house. Beyond that is the national road that leads into our town at the bottom of the hill. Now, take a closer look at you will appreciate that these are not rail-thin creatures desperate for any food they can find.
No, these animals are sleek and large, well-fed and are quite at home in this open area. Apart from being a hazard to the traffic on the road beyond – I know of people who have stopped at night to shoo them off the road to ensure the safety of other drivers who tend to speed into town – the cows do not confine themselves to this lush patch. The problem is that they move onto the pavements and into gardens. These ones are outside my front gate.
This one is inspecting my neighbour’s verge and made short work of the plants shortly after it was photographed.
And here are some of its mates – those sturdy creatures are not to be trifled with!
Meet The Urban Herd that wanders through our streets and gardens unchecked. A neighbour complained the other day that not only had she had to herd cows away from her garden early in the morning, but that later on she had had to slow down for about eight donkeys in the High Street, and then was met with a goat running around in the Church Square.
There are donkeys everywhere. I nearly crashed into one on my way to purchase groceries the other morning. Against the rising sun it looked at first like a drum at the side of the road – perhaps warning motorists of yet another pothole – and then it moved in front of my car in a flash. We know of people who have driven into donkeys or had an accident swerving out of their way.
Another neighbour added to the general complaint about the cowpats left on his lawn and that the cows had damaged his rock pathway by “creating a very uneven surface for some-one to stand in, fall or twist an ankle at our letter box”. Others complain of their plants and shrubs being munched on. Who would expect to meet cows standing or lying in the main road or suburban streets in the dark?
Some residents have tried sending pictures of the animals to the Municipal Manager, contacting the traffic police, and have even publicised the telephone number of the person in the municipality who is said to be in charge of stray animals – how odd that he always seems to be ‘out of town’ at a meeting when one asks to be put through to him. All to no avail. As someone said recently, “now that voting is over I think we may all just sing for our supper!”
The Urban Herd appears to be here to stay and the number is growing.