My first recollection of seeing Guinea fowl was as a very small boy traveling through the Swaziland bushveld by car and colliding with and killing two. To my horror, the carcasses were picked up and thrown onto the floor of the car next to where I was sitting.! Further, they were given to the friends we were visiting who cooked them in a stew. It didn’t seem very sporting to me, but I probably got over my horror and tucked into the stew. There are two species of Guinea Fowl in South Africa: the very common Helmeted Guineafowl, found all over the country and which I am sure everybody knows well: then there is the lesser known CRESTED GUINEA FOWL, found in Northern Kwazulu/Natal, up through Mozambique the east coast. I do not recall having seen this chap in Kruger National Park but he does occur fairly commonly in the regions of Pafuri, Punda Maria and possibly as far South as Nwanedzi. I am told that the Swazi people believe that if a child does not walk it will begin to do so if tickled on the knees with a guineafowl feather. The term MPANGELE seems to be common to several African peoples and refers to the speed at which the birds run and appear to be always in a hurry. Pangela means to wake up in the morning and go to work, so the word is symbolic of human effort at survival The Batswana know guineafowls as kgaka which has to do with effort, so to say ‘gehgaketsi’ it means ‘I am running like a guineafowl to make an effort at something’ The Crested Guineafowl is a sacred bird gifted with protective powers given by the gods: if the bird is in the village it will protect chickens from diseases. It is easily distinguished from the Helmeted by its woolly-like crest of feathers on the top of its head and because there is no red on the head.The Crested is darker than the Helmeted.Why not try your luck out in one of the northern Kwz/Natal Game Parks?

References: Robert’s Birds of South Africa Credo Mutwa: Wildlife Campus: African Folklore Course

Author: Craig Walters

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