It seems that every guide has something that they are particularly lucky with. Some will always arrive at the sighting just as a pride of lazing lions rouse themselves and launch a surprise attack on a herd of buffalo no one even knew was there. Others always seem to be able to find that one particular leopard that no one else has been able to for days, completely by mistake, every time. As for me, I think that my luck seems to lie with animals giving birth. A while ago, I documented an incredibly special sighting of an elephant taking its first steps and today we get to share with you the precious first moments of a wildebeest’s life.
Whilst out in the bush capturing footage, James and I had been obsessing a bit about all the newborn wildebeest and impalas around and so had decided to stop and scan every herd we came across, hoping that we could witness a birth. On this particular day, a wildebeest herd caught our attention as about ten youngsters and a brand newborn baby frolicked amongst the adults. One of the calves was still wet and wobbly and its mother gently nuzzled and cleaned it, keeping it surrounded by the majority of the herd. We continued to scan through the rest of the herd, when a female lying down on the outskirts and partially obscured by some trees caught our eye.
Suddenly, next to her, we noticed a tiny bundle wriggling, and as we inched closer we could see it attempting to free itself from the placenta. What we had spotted was a wildebeest that had literally just been born. We set our timers and only six minutes later, this newborn creature took its very first steps. Although wobbly and uncoordinated at first, it didn’t take long before its was dancing around its mother. A complete miracle of life.
If this wasn’t enough, my absolute best part of the sighting was watching the rest of the herd wander down through the clearing, in single file, all stopping to surround and greet the newest member of the family. The youngsters, some just a few days old and already moving around in nursery groups, sniffed and grunted at the wobbling calf in their customary way. Everything so new to them and yet everything so familiar.
Seeing the swiftness with which they deal with life is something we have come to accept and just expect of these animals but on this occasion I was once again struck by the immensity of what this little creature had just achieved. We were just so lucky that we had been in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.
Written by Amy Attenborough, Londolozi Online Media Team
Filmed by James Tyrrell, Londolozi Online Media Team