JUST IN TIME FOR MOTHER’S DAY!
It was the incessant alarming of the resident garden monkeys that sent our field guide Dihan on a game-drive that he will never forget!
After unsuccessfully scanning the area in front of the lodge for a young female leopard that has been hanging around, Dihan decided to take a drive out to see if he could find her.
Following her tracks that headed in a southerly direction toward the Hippo Dam area, Dihan's frustration was amplified by the dense vegetation that offered ample places for leopards to hide. He was just about to abort his mission when he heard the unmistakable sound of branches snapping and deduced that the recently acquired family group of elephants were feeding in the thick bush. Peering into the compressed undergrowth, Dihan was able to make out the tattered shape of one of the grey giant’s ears.
The elephants are an exciting new addition to the reserve, providing novel enjoyment and great photographic opportunities, so Dihan gave up on his leopard foray and waited patiently for the elephants to emerge from their feeding place. One by one, the majestic cows appeared treading graciously onto the road in front of Dihan’s stationary vehicle.
“But I noticed something different in their behaviour. Although they were relaxed, the matriarch did not take her eyes off me,” remarked Dihan.
He then took a double take! Sure that his eyes were deceiving him, he pinched himself, as a brand-new baby stumbled onto the road! His extremities were still pink, and his trunk was swinging uncontrollably as he tried to follow his mum on his over-sized feet. Taking stock, Dihan silently counted the group in front of him and realised he was not dreaming. There was definitely one extra elephant, and the new-born could be no older than a couple of hours.
Being a professional field guide and understanding the need to give wild animals their space in sensitive situations, Dihan thought it best to leave the scene immediately. Not wanting to startle the group, however, he waited for the elephants to move off a bit further before starting the engine. The matriarch then slowly came toward the vehicle and although the new-born is not her baby, she gently guided him into full view of Dihan; as if to proudly say – look what we have!
It’s incredible to think that this cow had been at her new home for less than a week when she delivered the baby that she has carried for over two years.
Considering that in the past seven days of her life, she had taken the dart to subdue her for the capture, endured swinging upside down on the crane that loaded her into the capture trailer, withstood the 700-kilometre road trip that lasted 18 odd hours; and after all that had to settle into her new home and find the maternity ward where she was to deliver her baby!
Just in time for Mother's Day too!