The south-western grasslands of Londolozi are known for, amongst other things, big herds of buffalo, large dazzles of zebra, the famous ostrich family as well as breathtaking sunsets. However, a recent afternoon game drive there turned up something quite unexpected that had my guests and I completely overwhelmed with joy.
We had set off to that part of the reserve to search for a herd of buffalo that had been seen on the morning game drive, and as we scanned the grasslands in search of them we spotted two elephants quite some distance away. We decided to go a little bit closer to the small herd to get a better look, and as we approached them I noticed that they weren’t feeding as I had initially thought but instead they were investigating this small grey blob in the grass. It became immediately clear that one of them had just given birth and we were the first people to ever see this new little calf.
The mother was incredibly relaxed with our presence and we sat for over an hour watching as she stood over her new-born, gently encouraging it to stand up and take its first steps. It was incredibly moving to watch as she nudged the calf with her trunk and eventually got it up onto its four wobbly legs. The first thing the calf tried to do was nurse, but it could not quite find her mothers teat and fell back down into a heap on the ground. Eventually it was able to muster up enough strength and balance to suckle and after a long feeding session we watched as it took its first steps following the female away from that spot.
Knowing just how intelligent elephants are and seeing first-hand just how close-knit their family groups are made this sighting even more special. After 22 months of pregnancy we got so lucky to see this female on the day she gave birth and to be able to watch the first steps taken by this little thing was certainly something that none of us will ever forget.