30 animals on offer at NZ's first annual game sale

Last updated 07:24 20/12/2013
Neville Cunningham
UNIQUE COLLECTION: Neville Cunningham offered a collection of 30 exotic game animals for sale.

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The efforts of South Canterbury man Neville Cunningham, to have game animals such as red deer and white tahr recognised as being of value rather than simply termed a pest to be eradicated, came to fruition yesterday when he staged New Zealand's first annual game animal sale.

The sale, held at his Timaru property, offered 30 animals by tender including a black tahr and a white tahr, chamois, trophy elk bulls, trophy red stags, a highland bull, two bison and arapawa rams.

All the animals have been bred by Mr Cunningham at one of his two properties, at Timaru or Aoraki/Mt Cook and some, such as the white tahr, have come from animals originally recovered from the bush, but now part of a managed breeding programme.

The single white tahr offered for sale was quite rare, according to Mr Cunningham.

"Prices for white tahr can be expected to start at around $20,000," he said.

The elk and red stags offered for sale were scored by Russell and Murray McWhirter.

"Usually we would score the stags in the crush, but we have scored them visually and they all look pretty good," he said.

Murray McWhirter, who has traded in exotic and game animals for many years, said it was a unique collection to offer at one site on one day. Trading game animals is not new, according to Mr Cunningham.

"Safari parks around the world and in New Zealand trade exotic and game animals," he said.

"It is all about putting value on animals and not just seeing them as a pest to be shot out and eradicated. New Zealand needs to let the world know it has the best red deer in the world and it is a unique and exciting hunting destination.

"We are up against countries like North and South America and Spain. Some of our best bloodlines are now being exported as embryos, so [we] shouldn't undersell ourselves," he said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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