This post is more an enquiry than anything else.
At the start of the rainy season, when all the impala lambs started being born, we started noticing something curious. A high proportion of them (when I say high, I mean something like 1 in 15), had a distinctly curious ear quality; theirs were floppy.
This is not a good thing. Impalas – and all other antelope out here – need to be in a constant state of vigilance from the get go, but the floppy-eared condition must surely have affected their hearing somewhat. Lambs can run within 20 minutes of being born, and although they are young and inexperienced, and haven’t ever seen what a leopard looks like, they still need all their senses functioning at 100%, or they might find themselves getting to know one in the wrong way.
I don’t know what caused this. It’s almost certainly some kind of faulty cartilage, but what caused that is anyone’s guess. The mother’s diet? Something genetic? We’ve sent some photos to the state vet and are awaiting a response, but I’m posting this to see if anyone out there has any theories or knows for sure what caused this.
Interestingly enough, the condition seems to have disappeared. Whether all the lambs born with floppy ears were at such a disadvantage that they all got eaten, or all of their ears have simply perked up, I can’t say for sure.