Kgalagadi – Act III: Red in tooth and claw

As mentioned in my first post about the Kgalagadi, nature is red in tooth and claw…you see life and death within seconds of each other. This rawness can be disturbing to some. When we excitedly mentioned our cheetah kill sighting to a chap in one of the camps, he said he no longer hangs around to watch them, saying that for him it is a bit like watching a car accident. Each to his own, I guess!

The scene below was wonderful to watch. It also had its moments…when we thought the poor little thing was stuck and wasn’t going to make it! Then what could we do? Absolutely nothing, of course. Yet again, we were just casual bystanders – powerless to intervene, but privileged to watch something so extraordinary and to share an incredible hour with this Sringbok mum.

As we drove by, we spotted her lying down and I noticed the birth sac protruding from her. She stood up and moved about and slowly two little feet emerged. She did not seem to be actively pushing – she would graze a little then maybe nose her behind a bit…but was not overly concerned about things.

At one point something spooked the small gathering of females and babies and they all bolted across the road -birthing mum included. As she ran, the sack burst and this seemed to speed things along. We then watched the little creature inch its way into the world – ears, nose, eyes.

The whole shiny bundle plopped out after a good 45 minutes. The mum spent a long time licking and eating the placenta and then this incredible little creature made its first attempt at getting up.

It struggled for ages, but could never quite make it. We had to leave the scene before we saw it totter up successfully, but were told by people who had seen this before that it can take quite a while. Our concern was that because her birth had seemed so prolonged, perhaps something had happened to the calf?

Again, like the cheetah and her kill – we will never know! And whatever happened, there would be no waste, if the little thing was damaged in some way. Someone would have benefited from this gift of life – hyena, jackal or vulture.

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