I was thinking to myself a couple days ago that I had been unlucky this year not to have witnessed any births and I was a little glum that I didn’t get the opportunity. Little did I know that that was all about to change. Jabu had been out on a walk and as he got back he said he had seen a wildebeest that was about to offload a new life into the bush. Myself and two other rangers jumped into a vehicle and went straight out to find her.
As we got there we could see a few calves lying in the grass but none of them new born and then we spotted her. Her tail was perched upon two little legs as she uncomfortably tried to look for shade. She wandered around not knowing whether to sit or stand as the little life inside her tried to get out. She pushed but there was no movement. For about half an hour we sat and watched as she looked around anxiously for predators.
Another push and the little legs extended a little further and the snout of the young calf was exposed to its first bit of fresh air. From this point on things happened quickly and within a minute the calf was lying on the ground next to its mother. The little one lay there weak and helpless as its mother cleaned it and ate a little of the amniotic sack to replenish some of the energy she had lost. The calf’s head bobbed up and down in the tall grass as it tried to muster the energy to get up onto its feet. The calf mustered the power to fight against gravity but only for a second as gravity pulled it straight back to the ground head first.
The rest of the herd came in to greet the new calf and defecate around it to try and mask the odour of the helpless new life that had just joined the herd. Again, the calf fought gravity, winning out for a few more seconds before face planting again. It only took about 5 minutes before the calf had found its feet. The little calf wobbled on its skinny little legs but as each minute went by it slowly got stronger and stronger and followed its mother around as she grazed alongside the herd. What an unbelievable sight to see.