Under water birth

We have been having some great sightings this past week but one particular sighting stood out from the rest. As we approached a large herd of buffalo relaxing in the water one very hot afternoon, we noticed that one cow seemed very distressed. She was constantly moving around the herd, splashing about looking agitated and causing the rest of the members to become agitated too. Then we noticed some afterbirth still attached to the distressed cow. We feared the worst as we knew exactly what had happened – she had given birth in the water. The newborn calf lay half-submerged in the water and we could not see any struggling – the calf was already dead. The poor mother kept coming back to the place she knew the calf would be but the lifeless body was simply not doing what it was supposed to do. This must have been a very confusing experience for the cow. We watched as other members of the herd came to investigate and nudged the dead calf around a bit. They seemed completely helpless as to what to do.

Sometimes nature can seem quite tragic to us but we seldom think about the outcome of such experiences. This particular buffalo mother will definitely have learnt from her mistake and will not come close to water again in future when she is about to give birth but it remains a harsh lesson to be learnt. We drove past the same dam the very next morning to see the bloated dead calf still floating around in the same place, and in the distance we noticed a crocodile swimming around. At least the crocodile will not go hungry – it is the circle of life.

We were having no luck finding leopard for a few days . There were tracks all over the place but this actually made tracking more difficult. Then we encountered really fresh tracks and followed them. When after a while we were not getting anywhere, we decided to head back to where we first found the fresh tracks and make sure the leopard was in fact heading in the direction we anticipated. We arrived at the spot only to discover that the leopard had already come out of the bush and had in fact walked on top of our fresh tyre tracks. He was playing with us! From the tracks we saw it was the young male, the cub of our resident female Twinspots. We changed course and followed the tracks heading to one of our dams close by… and there he was lying right in the open next to the water. There was much joy at this success. But hopefully he will be more obliging in the future!