Welcome to a Coenraad de Buys site.

Coenraad de Buys (the blond giant) was in great demand as the local unicorn expert in the Eastern Cape. Scientists from all over Europe wrote to the Cape authorities asking for his services, to the utter dismay of the local landdrost. Landdrost Stockenstroom who was trying his best to apprehend Coenraad and bring him to justice for all sorts of crimes and drummed up charges. Not withstanding the prize on his head he still managed to evade the law and take many of these scientists on trips to the Bamboesberg where he saw the unicorns.

Unicorns were first mentioned in texts dating back to Greek times when Aristoteles mentioned that unicorns are found in India. The Romans like Caesar believed that unicorns could be found in the mountains and forests of Bavaria. However the possibility do exist that they might have fallen pray to German humour and what they saw was nothing else than a wolpertinger.

Religion also became involved when the Hellenistic translators used the Greek word “monoceros” to translate the Hebrew “re-em”. This let to a period where Christians used the snow white unicorn as a religious symbol of purity. Many animal stories involved unicorns and in most of them only a virgin could approach or touch the unicorn.

Coenraad's unicorns were neither pure nor white and they were antelope, not horses like in the European fables. Jacob Kok from “Agter Bruintjes Hoogte”, was another person that claimed to have seen these unicorns. All of them also knew about the rock art drawings depicting unicorns. Lady Ann Barnard, one of the famous Cape Town socialites of her time noted an interesting observation from one of her servants. The Hottentot servant immediately recognized the unicorn depicted in the English Coat of Arms as an animal that he has seen before. Coenraad and his Hottentot gun bearer Slinger Swarts, gave the best description of a small heard of unicorns that they saw on an expedition north of the Bamboesberge.

According to them these antelope were smaller than a kudu but bigger than a bushbuck. The hornless females were lighter in colour almost like the bushbuck and the few males almost dark brown with a single horn growing out of the forehead. Apparently these buck were very jittery and impossible to get close to. Therefore they had no chance of shooting one to take back as evidence.

When the local Bushmen were asked about these animals they acknowledged their existence and told them that these animals also featured in some of the cave drawings that were made by their ancestors. One such drawing could be found in a cave high up in the Tarka mountains. Coenraad and Slinger went to look for this drawing but found it very disappointing. The horn was drawn much bigger than they saw on the real animals and even the head of the unicorn looked to small in relation to the body. It was difficult to make out the body because a more recent artist decided to draw an elephant over most of the body of the unicorn.

John Barrow insisted on seeing this drawing and that is why Coenraad sent Slinger with him to point out the cave. It was a few years after Coenraad visited the cave and apparently badly overgrown and difficult to get to according to Barrow. On 15 December 1797, John Barrow found this drawing of the unicorn in a cave high up in the Bamboesberg of the Eastern Cape. He did record the position of the cave as can be seen on the map.

His drawing of the head and prominent horn of the unicorn doesn't look like normal Bushmen paintings found in the area. This fuelled speculation of it being a hoax and drawn by Coenraad for financial gain. His cousin Sansunna could draw very well and she liked to play elaborate pranks on people. Fact remains that if this and other drawings were made by the Bushmen, they couldn't possibly have gained from such drawings and were just recording what they saw in nature.


I am still looking for more evidence or any other drawings anywhere showing unicorns.


"Niet de ‘Hottentotten’ (Khoikhoi), maar de ‘Bosjesmannen’ (San) zijn overigens de makers van rotstekeningen in zuidelijk Afrika. Allamands weinig overtuigende redenering lijkt te zijn dat de tekeningen een onafhankelijk bewijs voor het bestaan van eenhoorns kunnen vormen, omdat de ‘Hottentotten’ niet de bedoeling hadden een partij in het debat over het bestaan van de eenhoorn te steunen."

 

Internet picture of a red duiker with a single horn.

When the local Bushmen were asked about these animals they acknowledged their existence and told them that these animals also featured in some of the cave drawings that were made by their ancestors. One such drawing could be found in a cave high up in the Tarka mountains. Coenraad and Slinger went to look for this drawing but found it very disappointing. The horn was drawn much bigger than they saw on the real animals and even the head of the unicorn looked to small in relation to the body. It was difficult to make out the body because a more recent artist decided to draw an elephant over most of the body of the unicorn.

John Barrow insisted on seeing this drawing and that is why Coenraad sent Slinger with him to point out the cave. It was a few years after Coenraad visited the cave and apparently badly overgrown and difficult to get to according to Barrow. On 15 December 1797, John Barrow found this drawing of the unicorn in a cave high up in the Bamboesberg of the Eastern Cape. He did record the position of the cave as can be seen on the map.

His drawing of the head and prominent horn of the unicorn doesn't look like normal Bushmen paintings found in the area. This fuelled speculation of it being a hoax and drawn by Coenraad for financial gain. His cousin Sansunna could draw very well and she liked to play elaborate pranks on people. Fact remains that if this and other drawings were made by the Bushmen, they couldn't possibly have gained from such drawings and were just recording what they saw in nature.


I am still looking for more evidence or any other drawings anywhere showing unicorns.


"Niet de ‘Hottentotten’ (Khoikhoi), maar de ‘Bosjesmannen’ (San) zijn overigens de makers van rotstekeningen in zuidelijk Afrika. Allamands weinig overtuigende redenering lijkt te zijn dat de tekeningen een onafhankelijk bewijs voor het bestaan van eenhoorns kunnen vormen, omdat de ‘Hottentotten’ niet de bedoeling hadden een partij in het debat over het bestaan van de eenhoorn te steunen."

 

 

 

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