Witnessing a Miracle
In the midst of a very large herd of wildebeest, I’d just told my driver that it’s been eight years since I’d been back and forth to Tanzania and I hadn’t yet seen a live birth. Find me one, please, I pleaded like a kid in a candy store. As if on demand, he spotted a mom with a white sac hanging down. He yelled – I found one! I didn’t believe him, thought he was joking around as he usually is. Why should this time be any different, he’s just trying to get me excited? The others in the vehicle weren’t sure what he was talking about, but, as he said it, we all picked up or borrowed binoculars. The driver had, indeed spotted something through his binoculars but we weren’t sure what it was. What are we looking at, or looking for?
The driver puts his binoculars down and points to the herd. He tells us what to look for through our binoculars. We spotted a wildebeest with a white sac hanging from her rear. As the wildebeest was moving, the sac looked like it would disengage any moment. It was going to be a birth, right in front of us. The driver wasn’t kidding this time; finally, I would witness a birth. We decided to wait and watch what was going to happen. This was exciting and all the guests seemed to think so as well.
A Mother’s Instinct
The mom was up and down, up and down many times, clearly in labor. The mothers in our car, instinctively began coaching it. Breathe, breathe, stay down, just wait, breathe, it’s coming, just a few more deep breaths. Hearing us and not picturing the scene, you’d have thought we were in a hospital. We wanted to help, and would have loved to get out and cradle the mom and make her comfortable.
But life on these endless plains is more about survival than comfort. So, after about 45 minutes of coaching, we spotted it, legs from the sac, the mom had begun to give birth, feet first. We had initially positioned our vehicle a distance away so as not to disturb the mom or invade her space. As the mom quickly spit out the baby – which happened so fast, by the time we drove closer, the baby had already fell to the ground.
We tried to capture it on video, but, unfortunately, in a rush to get closer, our driver tore off before all of us were finished videotaping. Perfect scenarios don’t usually occur when it comes to these ‘once in a great while’ scenes. Animals reposition, other vehicles get in the way, the herds of animals block our view, and if there’s danger, we may or may not see it happen. In the blink of an eye, things on the Serengeti change. This is what I was able to salvage from my video as we tore off towards the wildebeest. I thought I had plenty of battery left, but it died, right in the middle of everything. Always be prepared. I thought I was, with extra battery in hand, but the best-laid plans often fall through. For me, that was it, I wanted to watch, not figure out what to do to get more video, and sometimes that is what you have to do.
Watch, Listen, and Appreciate
As we drove towards the mother and baby the mom began to lick away the afterbirth, which had splattered, apparently as the young one came from within the sac. The baby looked as if it was unable to move, but it was just a bit stunned.
We watched these two for some time, seemed like hours, but it was only minutes, and in that time, the baby was struggling to get up, continuously falling back to the ground, all in an effort to upright itself. After many cartwheels, the baby was up walking in five minutes and running moments thereafter. This was a survival story – for the moments we were able to be there – in that moment, they had survived. As we all know by now, we cannot predict its future, but hope for a bright one for this mom and her young baby.
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.