Feb 102018
 

Once again, we are visiting Africa during the “off season,” generally my preferred season to travel anywhere. It is summer here, and hot! We’re talking 110-degrees Fahrenheit and even higher. We’re talking walk-into-the-shower-fully-clothed-and-walk-out-soaking-wet hot, provided you’re lucky enough to have a shower.

It’s also the rainy season. We recently got 2.5 inches of rain in less than an hour, a real downpour. That means grasses grow and trees leaf out, and all that greenery obscures views of animals. Puddles and waterholes pool up all over so that animals no longer congregate around permanent waterholes. They’re spread out, harder to find.

But the abundant water (or more abundant, anyway) and ample green food also means babies. The off season here is the birthing season, and that presents some special viewing opportunities. Mind you, many species hide their babies in burrows and brush when they are born, away from predators and even the rest of the herd, so finding them can be a challenge.

Babies with Different Coloration

Babies’ coats often differ from those of adults so they are better camouflaged while they are most vulnerable.

Banded mongoose pup, Africa

Banded mongoose adult and pup

I imagine something that small is pretty hard to find, anyway.

Gemsbok baby, Africa

Gemsbok young

Young gemsbok have to earn their letterman sweaters. Not sure what I’m talking about? Stay tuned!

Hartebeest baby, Africa

Hartebeest baby

I see they are born with those crazy forehead shelves on which the horns sit.

Impala baby, Africa

Impala baby

Gives new meaning to “rubbernecking.”

Wildebeest baby, Africa

Wildebeest or gnu baby

They are at their most handsome right now.

Jackal pup, Africa

Jackal pup

But they get their adult coloration fast!

Springbok lamb or fawn, Africa

Springbok lamb or fawn

Those magic, superhero ears! “I can fly; I know I can!”

Kudu baby, Africa

Kudu baby

Adult Look-alikes

Some babies look like small versions of the adults.

Rock hyrax pup, Africa

Rock hyrax pup

Those old-man eyebrows!

Zebra foal, Africa

Zebra foal

A bit fuzzier than adults, but colored the same.

Hippo baby, Africa

Hippo baby

Ohmygosh, they come out as sausages; it’s not something they grow into!

Giraffe calf, Africa

Giraffe calf

Half a giraffe, sort of.

Elephant calf, Africa

Elephant calf

What a baby elephant can’t do is control its trunk very well. For instance, most have to learn to drink with it. When they’re young, they drink with their mouths.

Adolescents

Some young stay with their mothers for several years, until they are quite large and adult-looking. Would you believe this guy is still in Mom’s care?

Black rhino young, Africa

Black rhino young

Funny and Adorable

Warthog piglet, Africa

Warthog piglet

Babies with muttonchops crack me up!

Baboon baby, Africa

Chacma baboon baby

Vervet monkey baby, Africa

Vervet monkey baby

Baboons and monkeys tie for the goofiest babies, both in looks and behavior.

Nurseries

I call this an impala nursery, but, technically, it’s called a “creche.” Impala, springbok, and other herd animals will gather their young in groups so mothers can take turns wandering off to eat. The wee ones learn the social rules of being in a herd, and adolescents and adults linger nearby to supervise and keep a lookout.

Impala creche, Chobe National Park, Botswana

Impala creche

How often do you think a tired adult tells a misbehaving youth, “I think I smell a lion”?

A Newborn!

My favorite baby sighting of all: a newborn springbok. This brand-spanking new springbok still looks wet, darkly colored, has its umbilical cord dangling, and is wobbly on its spindly legs. Mom still shows signs of recently given birth on her hind end, and she’s ravenous, eating, eating, eating.

Newborn springbok, Okaukuejo, Etosha National Park, Namibia

Newborn springbok

They’re alone in the middle of a wide, open plain. No lions in sight. May the odds be in your favor, little one.