My two favorite months of the year in the bush are November and December. The rains have arrived and life has sprung. It seems to be a race for survival for every species at Londolozi at this time of the year. The birds are breeding and making the most of the bounty of fruit, seeds and insects; the trees are absorbing as much of the rain water as possible before the harsh dry season begins and animals such as the wildebeest and impala are giving birth in their hundreds. The small calves and lambs of the wildebeest and impala need to grow as fast as possible and make the most of the summer grazing before the plants lose their nutritional value.
This past week we headed out on safari early one morning in the midst of an oncoming thunderstorm. The lightning and thunder was rapidly closing in on us, threatening to send us back to camp, when we spotted a wildebeest cow that was going in to labor. Although wildebeest give birth every year, it is actually very rare to witness the entire birthing process from start to finish! I easily convinced my guests to don their waterproof ponchos and prepare for the rain as none of us were planning on missing this birth – an event which I have been waiting many years to see!
We followed the wildebeest cow at a distance and observed how the entire herd of wildebeest crowded around the laboring mother in the excitement of the new edition. Suddenly two little hooves popped out from underneath her tail and the excitement from my guests and I began to build. She then moved off to find a secluded thicket to give birth and to our surprise she was joined by a second cow in labor. It was a matter of seconds between each calf being born right alongside each other. Two new lives entering the world of Londolozi right in front of us.
What amazed us next was how quickly the two little calves got to their feet and struggled to their mothers as if their legs were made of spaghetti. Their instinct so deeply ingrained that upon arriving at their mothers side they went immediately for a drink of the rich milk. The sighting was a first for me and something, which in the last 6 years of guiding I have only dreamt of seeing.
Written and Photographed by: Lucien Beaumont
Filmed by: Mike Fihrer