“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society” ~ Billy Graham
A few of the Londolozi Dads share some of their wisdom with us to celebrate Father’s Day tomorrow.
The role of the father is critical! In the animal world this role varies greatly from some creatures being the sole carers of their offspring to others living completely independent lives. What’s incredible to notice and admire is that each of these roles, relationships or ‘parenting styles’ have evolved over many years and ultimately play a huge part in the success of these species. This Father’s Day, we explore wildlife fathers that we see at Londolozi often as well as some special reflection from the fathers of Londolozi. Please feel free to add your learning or wisdom in the comments below, we would love to hear what fatherhood has shown you!
1.Wisdom from: Dave Varty, Londolozi Founder
“If there is any advice I can give to new fathers or fathers-to-be, it is to learn from your children. They have wisdom and an understanding of the future”.
2.Wisdom from: Big Male Lions
Male lions may not seem to play a fatherly role at first. When you look a bit deeper though, these majestic animals do in fact play an important role as fathers in a lion pride. Although lionesses are responsible for the majority of the parental care of young cubs, male lions have an equally important role – safety. They spend a large portion of their time patrolling the territory, scent marking and roaring, ensuring no other males enter the area. In doing so, the cubs are kept safe from intruders. The securing of the territory is not a part time job. In fact, the protective role of these males is essential right up until the cubs reach sub-adult age and are large enough to protect themselves. Male lions from another pride or coalition will try to kill any offspring they might encounter that aren’t theirs. The presence of a male lion at a kill also deters hyena and other scavengers, ensuring that the cubs and the rest of the pride have an opportunity to eat relatively undisturbed (if you’ve ever seen lions feeding you will know that it is not a peaceful process, regardless of whether there are scavenges around or not).
3.Wisdom from: Simon Sambo, Founders Camp Manager
“Fatherhood has made me a role model and made me question and refine what role model I would like to be. Yes, it’s true! For those of you with children you will understand this transition – the day your child comes into the world you have officially become a role model. Our children are always watching and learning from us, and although none of us can be the perfect father, it is something we should always strive towards. At the end of the day, our children are an imitation of us.”
4.Wisdom from: Hornbills
Red- and yellow-billed hornbills in particular practice amazing nesting habits. You may well be lucky enough to observe these habits if you happen to visit Londolozi during the summer months which is their breeding season. Males will actively search for females, often displaying in a very visible fashion with wings out, head lowered and calling. This too can be used as a territorial display to other individuals of the same species. Once mating is concluded, the female secrets herself away in a cavity within a tree.
The next step in their nesting is like no other; the female will enter the hole in the tree and go into a moult, losing all of her flight feathers. She incarcerates herself within the cavity of a tree. The hole is sealed to a narrow slit by using mud and plant material brought by the male. The act of sealing herself in can be seen as a way of reducing predation, as well as to disallow other hole-nesting birds from taking over the nest. The male will then courtship-feed the female with insects or regurgitated matter. Inside the nest over the next six days, the female will lay anywhere between three to five eggs. She is the only one to incubate the eggs and will do so from the first egg laid.
5. Wisdom from: Chris Kane-Berman, Managing Director
“Fatherhood, without a doubt, has been the biggest teacher in my life. It is an everlasting gift that continues to grow me as an individual. As your children grow you move from a teacher to a friend and, to me, the bond then becomes stronger and stronger, and parenthood becomes more fulfilling. It’s a journey that has brought me more joy, tears, laughter and happiness than I could have ever dreamed of.”
6. Wisdom from: Eric Ubisi, Sous Chef
“To me, being a father is a gift. Every time I hear my children call me their father I truly feel blessed. I lost both my parents at a young age and so I fully understand the importance of parenthood and the impact that has on a child. It was due to this that I started my orphanage, to make a difference to those we needed guidance because their parents were no longer around. Londolozi Family member Debbie Kane-Berman played an integral part in the starting of this orphanage and we will forever be grateful for her involved. As time passed to created an orphanage specifically for disabled kids and a day care centre which is a lot to manage. Thank you to Londolozi for their support which has made a huge difference. The orphanage has fulfilled my dream of becoming a father and has lifted my spirit knowing that I am making a difference to those we are experiencing a similar childhood to me. I now see children who started with me, now studying at university. This is the biggest joy for me, being a father for so many children who make me proud.”
7.Wisdom from: The African Wild Dog
The major parenting role of a wild dog is food collection. The pack will hunt together, reaching 40 miles per hour while chasing their prey. The prey is quickly devoured by the pack and soon the dogs are back on their feet and heading towards their den site. Pups are only able to eat solids after 10 months of age and so food is regurgitated up for them to feed on. This prevents the pups form wondering too far from their den and keeps them safe from other predators. A wonderful example of this was the two-pack from last year, whereby the male had to often hunt alone to feed the female as well as the pups. Amazingly, he adapted to solitude hunting and provided his family with many regurgitated meals.
8.Wisdom from: Duncan MacLarty, General Manager
“Fatherhood has taught me A LOT. If I had to pick one thing it has taught me it is that, if you are willing and you allow it, your children will teach you more about yourself than anybody else in the world”.
9. Wisdom from: The African Jacana
The male African Jacana is smaller than the female and plays the most important role in the parenting of their chicks. The male Jacana builds a nest on a little floating island in a river or waterhole. After finding a female to mate with, the female will lay her eggs and leave the male. These incredible Jacana males are required to tend to the eggs (normally four) which the female as just laid. The process of being a single parent entails incubating the eggs and carrying the chicks to safer locations under his wings.
Previous Ranger, Sean Cresswell, monitored a male jacana for a few days doing his fatherly duties:
“Every day we would come past several times and he would casually get up off of the nest and wonder around so as not to draw any unwanted attention to the incubating clutch, and without the keen eye and intuition of tracker Rob Hlatshwayo none of us would have been any the wiser. Not only did this bird’s cunning distractions fool most of us, but also the always-present Water Monitors and even a marauding Marsh Terrapin who we saw one day get very close to the four speckled eggs which were precariously balanced atop an intersection of lilies. It almost seemed the male Jacana had surreptitiously kept his nest afloat and out of danger for just long enough, and it was nearing the end of a 3-3.5 week incubation period! But to our utter delight we eventually got binoculars locked onto him trotting across the lilies on the far side of the water hole with four tiny chicks attempting to navigate their dense surroundings beside his long toes! Someone described them as “fluffy ping pong balls with legs”.
10. Wisdom from: Chris Goodman, Head of Land Care
“Parenthood has taught me two things. Prior to parenthood I didn’t believe these two things, until I had to put them into practice. 1.) Once you become a parent it stops being about you, everything you do shifts from selfish intentions to a focus on your children and their growth, development and needs. 2.) This was actually said to me by Dave Varty. He told me that children come out negotiating, and boy, having two girls I have realised this! You need to be up every morning in a boxing stance because their negotiating starts from the second they open their little eyes”.
12.Wisdom from: The African Bullfrog
While looking for wildlife fathers who do a phenomenal job at parenting I stumbled across the African bullfrog (Pyxicephalus adspersus). I wasn’t expecting to find an amphibian, especially not the biggest frog in Africa! These bullfrogs are devoted fathers as they stay to keep watch over the newly hatched tadpoles. They are also brave enough to attack animals much larger than themselves. As these bullfrogs become fathers they will do whatever it takes to ensure their offspring are safe (in some cases the male can have over 6000 eggs to look after). David Attenborough shows us how they manage to protect all of their eggs:
13. Wisdom from: Vusi Sibiya, Information Technology Technician
“Being a father has instilled discipline into my life and my lifestyle. Since my kids have come into my life I have become a much more sensible, strong and brave person. They have made me a better man”.
Happy Father’s Day to all the father’s and fatherly figures reading our blog today, we will be thinking of you all tomorrow. Thank you for the beautiful wisdom…Please leave a comment below sharing your lessons learnt from fatherhood.