In awe of the harmony; yet danger lurks
As we drive along the jagged and bumpy road that is the Maasai Mara in Kenya, gazing over the plains and commenting at the variation between terrains, hearing drops of rain on the bonnet of the vehicle, the sun barely shining through the clouds, we are in disbelief, that we are here, witnessing this picture perfect day in Africa. Imagine That! The animals congregate together in perfect harmony. I am in awe, still after so many safaris. It all looks so incredibly beautiful and relaxing. It seems perfect!
Yet, there’s a myriad of activity going on before us. If you take a moment to stop, watch and listen, as I often do, it will become clear there’s danger everywhere and life is not easy for any of these animals. A sudden move, a look, a stance, a cry, any one of them could be a sign of aggression, danger, or a potential threat lurking. Drivers must know how to read these animals, they must always be keenly aware of their location, and the surrounds.
The moment gives way to new life
Life on these plains is difficult. It’s a struggle to stay alive on these plains. We see the difficulty in every death, and in every birth. And suddenly on this day, as we drive along, we come face to face with a baby who only seconds ago has taken it’s first breath outside the mother’s womb. It’s a Topi! Do you know a topi? You may only know it if you travel to Africa. A topi is affectionately known as Blue Jeans, because of the ‘denim’ color on its legs.
The baby is still covered in afterbirth, and hasn’t yet tried to upright itself. We stop and watch. It’s an amazing sight, not often seen. You have to consider yourself fortunate if you see a birth in the wild. And this was my second one. Unfortunately, no birth is easy, and as the mother continuously looks around for predators, we too grab our binoculars to see if there is danger lurking somewhere, as if we could warn the mother if there were. We watch the other animals. If they spot danger, they often will distract whatever it is, sometimes by running in the opposite direction, sometimes by movement, and often just by teamwork. What could we, in the vehicle, do if we saw anything? Not much! We don’t interfere with nature, as hard as it may be, as much as we sometimes think we should. Interfering with nature, while seemingly innocent, could put us all in danger.
We only hope if there is danger, the other animals would alert this Topi who is now extremely vulnerable. The baby has no options, it seemed like he was not going to be able to stand up to the challenge. Already ten minutes has elapsed and the baby continues to fall over. The mother is getting impatient, the baby doesn’t seem to ‘get it’. We joke amongst ourselves, that it takes a human baby almost a year to walk and it’s expected that these babies should be up and walking within five minutes. But, it’s true. After a ‘reasonable’ length of time, the afterbirth begins to smell, then there is the smell of the newborn itself and the mom’s posture – all signs to a predator that there is something here to their liking if they remain there long enough. The baby would have no chance.
Come on baby, you can do it
The baby still lies on the ground, and with every move, it is unable to balance enough to get up. We cheer it on. The mother continues to nudge it over and over again. When finally the baby does struggle to pull itself up; it’s not for long; each time it falls back down. One last try and it manages to stand up; take a few steps, instinctively searching the mom for food, but can’t quite find it. The mom lifts her leg and re-positions and accidentally knocks the baby down again. It struggles to get back up is not easy but when it does, it finds the nipple and begins to suckle.
Another mother and child – very fortunate. In the company of many other Topis on the plains, they would have alerted the mom if danger was around. The baby is fortunate because there is a good chance that the mom would have left the baby if that were the case, or if the baby took too long to get up. I’ve seen it happen, where young babies are abandoned by their mom, still alive and lying on the ground; all the while struggling to get up and the mother has begun her journey away from the baby, and is now, nowhere in sight.
However, on this day, this was not one of those scenes. As we drive off, the mother and baby are together bonding for what we hope is a long life’s journey. Life is precious! See it yourself in the video below.
If you’re anxious to see it for yourself, join me in March 2016 and help me celebrate my seven years in business. Affordably priced, this safari is timed at the height of the migration. Contact me for details, firstname.lastname@example.org • 951-898-6094 • destined-to-travel.com.