Monday, December 14, 2009

After birth

Those familiar with the "life cycle" in nature (& especially in the Kruger National Park area) know that towards the end of November (after the first "good" rain) many "babies" are born. To witness this occurrence has always been a silent wish - and I was privileged to experience some of it at close range & from an open safari vehicle recently (during the last tour I guided for this year). I asked the ranger to stop when I saw this female impala "licking" - guessing that it was a newborn although it was "hidden" from view behind a clump of grass.

When on shaky legs the tiny impala "emerged", I was "ecstatic" - I love impalas (have even "dedicated" my first "photo-story" to impalas - to be published in the UK in Jan 2010).

Watching the tiny newborn reaching for what it instinctively knows is vital sustenance was "magic" - yet also frustrating, because the little one didn't find the "source" right away. It also was endearing to watch how with a hind-leg, the mother tried to guide her offspring to the "make the right connection".

"What? Are you meaning I'm expected to 'hook on' to that?" the tiny impala appears to query, mystified.

"Now let me see - is this the way to go?"

"No, little one. Reach higher!" I mentally assist it to find the 'right spot'.

"At last! Now you've found it," I silently and with a sense of relief (which I think I shared with the impala mother!?), congratulate the baby impala.

"Now that you've had your fill," the female impala seems to say, "it's time we move on to a more secluded and safe spot amongst the bushes and rejoin our herd." That's also where the newborn impala will become part of a creche.

And that's when I see it - the afterbirth! (It's "sticking" to the female's backside & wasn't visible on the first photo - just click on photos to enlarge & to compare).

Once mother & child have disappeared, I silently wish them well - and we move on. It's a day "for" babies, though, and "just around the corner", we detect another impala female & its newborn ...

... and "just down the road" also a female giraffe & a very "greedy" young newborn.

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