Written by: Kelly Winkler
There really is nothing better than watching newborns find their feet in the African wilderness, and what better way to do so than by taking a trip to the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa?!
On our recent visit to this part of the world, during which we divided our stay between Tintswalo Safari Lodge in the Manyeleti Game Reserve and Umlani Bushcamp in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, we were delighted to see babies acting adorably everywhere! The beauty of these private reserves is that they share an unfenced boundary with the Kruger National Park, which means that the Big Five and other animals are free to roam wherever they wish – complete with babies in tow!
And here are a few of our special sightings, along with some fun facts about some of the beautiful babies in the bush.
Fun fact: Elephants have the longest pregnancy of all animals – 22 months from conception until they finally give birth, which means that they are with child for nearly two years!
This baby ellie was playing ‘Follow the Leader’! Maybe it was because she had just finished nursing and wasn’t feeling quite ready to be independent yet, or maybe the little ellie just had a lot of love for her big mamma. Whatever the reason, it was such a sweet moment!
Fun fact: A female zebra will only give birth to one baby at a time, which is known as a foal. At the time that the foal is born, its stripes appear to be more of a white and brown colour combo.
Two baby zebras were attached at the hip – wherever one baby went, the other followed; from eating, to playing, they copied each other’s every move. Needless to say this moment gave a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘zebra crossing’ and I could have sat at this sighting all day!
Fun fact: When faced with predator attacks, a buffalo herd will form a circle around the young, old or weak animals, and point their sharp horns at the predators. This barrier is effective because it prevents predators from reaching the animals that are not strong enough to fight for themselves.
How could any baby buffalo be fearful with this bulky herd keeping a watchful eye on it?
Fun fact: A female wildebeest gives birth in the middle of the herd, and around 80% of calves will be born during the same two to three-week period, just before the rainy season hits.
These little wildebeest weren’t shy at all and carried on like the three musketeers of the bush, chomping shrubbery and nibbling at the fly colony that seemed to be bothering them.
Fun fact: The giraffe is the tallest mammal in the world and even newborn giraffe babies are taller than most humans!
This mom kept a watchful eye on her baby, taking breaks between eating the leaves on the tallest trees to make sure her baby was nearby. It can’t hurt having a bird’s eye view of the bush!
Newborn animals are often seen in the Kruger National Park at around the end of November and early December, which falls in line with Kruger’s rainy summer season. These little bundles of joy can then be seen ambling around with their mothers, siblings or herds for many months to follow. And it’s a delight to watch them find their feet, learn the tricks of bush survival and share plenty of cute moments with visiting guests!
Kelly Winkler flew with Airlink to Nelspruit, which is just a scenic drive away from Tintswalo Safari Lodge and Umlani Bushcamp. At just a two-and-a-half hour flight from Cape Town, there is no excuse to miss out on the world renowned Greater Kruger National Park. Airlink is the largest independent regional airline in Southern Africa – linking passengers to smaller towns, cities and regional centres, and servicing more than 30 destinations in the region. Airlink offers direct flights from Cape Town to George, Kimberley, Nelspruit, Skukuza, Upington, Pretoria, Maun and Windhoek. For more details on their various routes, visit their website.
To find out more about how to make the most of a stay in the Greater Kruger, read: All-Inclusive Kruger