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.
I imagine something that small is pretty hard to find, anyway.
Young gemsbok have to earn their letterman sweaters. Not sure what I’m talking about? Stay tuned!
I see they are born with those crazy forehead shelves on which the horns sit.
Gives new meaning to “rubbernecking.”
They are at their most handsome right now.
But they get their adult coloration fast!
Those magic, superhero ears! “I can fly; I know I can!”
Some babies look like small versions of the adults.
Those old-man eyebrows!
A bit fuzzier than adults, but colored the same.
Ohmygosh, they come out as sausages; it’s not something they grow into!
Half a giraffe, sort of.
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.
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?
Funny and Adorable
Babies with muttonchops crack me up!
Baboons and monkeys tie for the goofiest babies, both in looks and behavior.
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.
How often do you think a tired adult tells a misbehaving youth, “I think I smell a lion”?
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.
They’re alone in the middle of a wide, open plain. No lions in sight. May the odds be in your favor, little one.