Circle Of Life – The Lighter Side
Today I write about the lighter side of nature, the magical side of birth and renewal. At the beginning of this year Mother Nature opened the doors once again and allowed us to experience the softer side of the great Circle of life..
Whilst out on an early morning Game Drive with guests, we were able to witness the birth of the elusive and very solitary antelope, the Bushbuck.
The vehicle was abuzz with early morning excitement and chatter when we became aware of the ewe as she stood up from under a small shrub just 2 metres off the sand road. We were drawn to the sight of the ewe as we noticed the afterbirth was still trailing behind her. Out of the shrubbery, the tiniest and wobbliest little Imbabala appeared, still shining and covered in blood and placenta. The foal, still trying to find its legs, stumbled along, fell and got up again eager to make its way to its mother who had characteristically walked slowly away to find some cover after being startled by our vehicle.
As these mammals are extremely shy, we were very fortunate to witness the first few moments of this interaction as the mother slowly and gently started to lick and clean the foal. This is done as a natural survival instinct, the mother will eat the placenta and the dung of the young to remove all smells that would otherwise attract predators such as leopard, hyena, wild dogs and lions, this will continue for a while after the birth as the foal does not accompany its mother to forage until after it is 4 months old and will therefore remain behind in dense vegetation.
It was amazing for us to witness the social interaction between the mother and newborn as going forward, she will only spend a few hours a day with the young. We then decided to leave them to bond, the foal was calm and very relaxed with us offering us the opportunity to photograph it out in the open noting its very characteristic white marking on its cheek. It then disappeared behind a bush where the mother had now lay down to resume cleaning and we continued on our drive.