Game Skins

 

 

 

The Latin name 'marsupials' derives from a pocket-like skin flap, which extends along the middle of the back on to the tail. The springbok can lift this flap, which makes the white hairs underneath stand up in a conspicuous 'fan'. 

 

 

Dyed springbok skins vary in colour from flame red and strong orange all the way to chocolate brown. Most people prefer the natural look, but if your home has a certain colour scheme then a dyed springbok skin will compliment any look. Game skins are obtained from animals that are used for human use. Examples of animal hide sources are deer and cattle typically used for producing leather, alligator skins, snake skins for shoes and fashion accessories and wild cats, minks and bears, whose skins are primarily sought for their fur.

 

 

In India leather is produced from cattle hides at home/ small scale but most leather making is done on a large scale. Various tannins are used for this purpose. Leather from processed hides finds a variety of uses from shoes and clothing to furniture and sometimes wall or surface coverings.

 

Commonly known as the Mountain Zebra. Hartmann zebra hides have broad black stripes on an off-white body. The stripes extend down the legs, but do not meet on the belly.

 

This is the Common or Plains Zebra. Burchell zebra hides have a whitish or cream colour with black stripes, which continue under the belly. Yellow or grey 'shadow stripes' occur between the black markings on the hindquarters. The stripes reach right around the body, and only on the outside of the legs.

 

The most distinctive feature of an Nguni hide, is its flamboyantly differentiated color patterns.

So many different variations of these color patterns exist that it is impossible to even try to describe the whole spectrum.

Each Nguni hide is a unique African creation.

 

 

The Blue Wildebeest is a large ungulate mammal of the genus Connochaetes which grows to 1.4 meters shoulder height and attains a body mass of up to 270kg.

They range the open plain, bush and dry woodlands of Southern and East Africa, realizing a life span in excess of twenty years.

 

 

Impala stand between 75 to 95 centimetres tall at the shoulder and weigh about 50kg. They are reddish-brown in colour with lighter flanks, and have white underbellies.

Males have lyre-shaped horns which can reach up to 90 centimetres in length. Impala are among the most beautiful and graceful of the antelopes.

 

Kudu’s are about a metre to a metre and a half tall at the shoulder and weigh 120 to 500 kg. The males being much larger than the females.

Kudu have brown to grey-blue coats with many white stripes and markings.
There is a crest on the neck and shoulders and a mane along the throat.

 

The Red Hartebeest stands almost 1.5 m (5 ft) at the shoulder and weighs anywhere from 120-200 kg (265-440 lb). They can reach a length of 70 cm (27 in). Male Hartebeest are a dark brown colour while females are yellow brown.

The horns found in both sexes curve outwards, then forwards, and then backward, the distinctive (cartoon) "heart" shape lending the hartebeest its name.

 

Tanning Process

 

 

Upon shooting, the animal should be bled as quickly as possible as bacterial action and putrefaction of the skin commences immediately after the animal is killed. Game skins, zebra hides, springbok skins any kind of skin can be tanned. Skinning should take place as quickly as possible after killing while the carcass is still warm as this facilitates removal of the skin. The game skins should be washed immediately in cold water to lower the skin temperature and to remove any blood or dirt on the skin. Immediately after washing in cold water, the skin should be salted.

It is advisable to add a disinfectant (for example Dettol, Jik, Chlorine) with clean water after the skin has been washed. Use this as a dip to disinfect the skin to prevent any putrefaction as far as possible. A thick layer (approximately 50% plus, of the skin weight) of the coarse common salt should be spread and rubbed into the flesh of the skin. The skin can then be folded in on itself (hair inside). If washing and salting is not possible the skin should be left open in a well ventilated, shaded place to cool and dry – preferably hung off the ground over a pole.

Once dried the skins should not be folded, as this will cause the skin to crack. Cured skins should be stored in a cool environment, but not frozen. Raw or cured game skins must not, at any time, be exposed to temperatures in excess temperatures as this will lead to heat damage. Particular care should be taken during transportation of skins as vehicles are often left in full sun.

 

 

Wet salting as described above is the quickest and best method of preserving game skins. Other methods e.g. shade drying or sun-drying result in sub sequent poor tanning and lower quality skins. It is critical to the quality of the skin that skinning and curing are not delayed. Game skins that are shade or sun-dried, or suffer a delayed cure, will at best experience what is known as hair-slip, i.e. the hair will fall out during the tanning process, even if the skin itself appears okay.


At worst the grain (outer surface of the skin) will lose its hair and suffer disintegration to the point of development of holes. Game skins that are weakened by bacterial action will also suffer damage during the tanning operation that are necessary to convert the skins to leather. Game skins like zebra hides are by far my favourite and ill recommend a zebra hide in anybody’s home. Historically, seal coats have been prized for both their beauty and their warmth.


Seal oil was often used as lamp fuel, lubricating and cooking oil, for processing such materials as leather and jute, and as a constituent of soap. The meat was an important source of protein, vitamin A and iron for the Eskimo. Reports from modern-day seal-meat connoisseurs vary: some reports praise its delicate flavour; others claim it is unfit for human consumption. In the past, ostriches were mostly hunted and farmed for their feathers, which used to be very popular as ornaments in ladies' hats and such. Their skins were also valued to make fine leather.

 

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