The purpose of curing is to protect, by the use of salt, freshly flayed hides and skins from attack by micro-organisms and to render them storable for a prolonged period of time. There are many methods to follow, but remember that the longer curing is delayed, the greater the risk of disappointment with the end result. It only takes 6 hour for the bacteria to destroy the hair roots, causing hairslip.
So, how can we reduce the risk of bacterial damage?
- Skin the animal as soon as possible after shooting.
- Remove excess fat and flesh. On a zebra, the fat MUST be removed from beneath the mane!
- Wash off all blood and dirt with cold water
- If possible, soak the skin for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight in a saturated salt solution (about 20 kg’s salt per 100 litres of water), together with a bactericide such as Milton (used to sterilise baby bottles) at the rate of about 100 ml per 100 litres of water.
- As you remove the skin from the solution, allow excess water to drip off, then whilst still moist open and flatten the skin on a clean surface lined with salt, flesh side facing up, and cover the skin with salt. Be liberal with the salt.
- The skin must then lie in salt for at least 3 days, after which the skin should be dried out. Avoid leaving a skin in the sun, but try and air dry as quickly as possible, as the sooner the skin is dehydrated, the better. If one does not have time to do this, the skin must be rolled in the salt and dried at its destination.
- DO NOT drag the animal, not even a small distance. Use a sail to do this and for loading.
- DO NOT leave a freshly killed animal in the sun for longer than necessary.
- DO NOT salt a skin that has already started to dehydrate. Rather soak it in a strong salt solution as above.
- DO NOT Leave a skin in a plastic bag, plastic container or anything that is not breathable when transporting it.