Firstly, for all greater Capetonians, arks
, the forum's legendary emerging tusker prizewinner will be in CT and we have an opportunity to have a meal with her on Friday 12 October
. Keep up to date here
Tuesday 25 Sept - Day 2
I have witnessed many amazing wildlife spectacularities over the 51 years since my first Kruger visit. But the quiet scene that played out on the plain near Domkrag dam on this day has to top them all. Yes Stephen, even the lion/buffalo/hyena standoff outside Biyamiti in 2001, which was unbelievable Kruger at her best. Yes family, even the lion kill we witnessed in 1992, and the wild dog and cheetah kills we saw happen on consecutive days in 1995. Yes Dad, even the wild dog kill that exploded on our 50th anniversary trip that were your first wild dogs ever, and even the leopard that walked next to the car.......enough! get on with it.
There was no adrenalin rush like the others. This played out over an hour or so. Towards the end of the morning drive Cape Robin and I decided to loop back to camp via Domkrag dam.
We met Caro and her mother Merril, 2 of the 'invasion force', gazing out into the distance and stopped to see what they saw. Caro said her mum thinks that a red hartebeest we saw lying down was pregnant and about to give birth. We stopped and although it was about 300 metres away, we could see quite well through binos.
The RH squirmed a bit on the ground and then stood up and rotated with its posterior towards us. A sac-like thing emerged and dangled half way down towards the ground. (forgive the rudimentary descriptions - I am neither vet nor farmer!). Caro said that the baby would die if left like that.
I peered through my binos and picked up some slight movement on the ground and was the first to see, unclearly, a small object. It flicked an ear! It was Jimmy (my name for him) the seconds old baby RH!!!
What Caro has seen was the placenta. I told everyone and a great cheer went up.
Mum turned and started to lick for the first time since we arrived. The squirming must have been the actual birth moments. As the minutes ticked away, more cars arrived, some astonishingly not very interested, and moved on.
Mum continued to lick Jimmy and encouraged him to stand, by nudging him with her snout. After a few minutes, he managed to get his hind legs up but the forelegs wouldn't co-operate, and down in a heap he went.
Fortunately the two of them were totally alone on the plain. Eventually he got up onto all 4 feet but collapsed again. There were quite a few who would have dashed out there to hold him steady if mum had just called. At last the collapsing legs gave way to rock n roll, and he started to walk a few steps.
That was when human bladder tolerance was almost at breaking point and we left as mum and Jimmy were able to make their way out of the birthing site that would attract predators later in the day.
We made it back to camp without soiling ourselves, and marvelled at the miracle of new life. It is either a fool or a person of exceptional faith to believe this all happens by accident or some big bang!
Thanks to Caro, and especially to Merril's matronly intuition. At 80 something, it was on her first trip with the 'force', and judging by how she enjoyed it, there will be more
Photo sequence and the rest of the day to follow......