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December and January are famous in the South African bush for being the birthing period. Impala, wildebeest, hartebeest and warthog are just a handful of the herbivores that give birth at this time of year. This baby boom period is how the herbivores ensure their success, considering that over 50% of the young will fall prey to predators. However, despite living and working in the African bush for the past four-and-a-half years and doing game drives twice a day, I have never witnessed a successful birth. 

Recently I drove to an area of open plains and stopped, taking in the magnificent scene. Zebra, impala, blue wildebeest and warthog were gathered in front of me, all with their young grazing on the lush new grass.

Then in the distance I noticed a blue wildebeest on her side. She appeared to be struggling. Upon closer inspection with a pair of binoculars, I could see two legs and a nose sticking out from under her tail. She was giving birth!

The following sequence of photos speak for themselves. I did not want to disturb the new mother so I kept my distance. The newly born calf took its first steps after just four minutes and it had its first drink after nine minutes. The instinct of these animals was incredible and I felt very lucky to have been a witness to this special event.

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Michelle Sole

Michelle Sole is a safari and polar guide, wildlife photographer and blogger. As a child, Michelle always had a love and respect for nature, animals and the outdoors. She competed for Great Britain as an alpine ski racer for ten years, chasing winters around the world. On a family holiday to Africa in 2008, Michelle fell in love with elephants. In 2011 she moved to South Africa where she completed her studies to become a field guide and worked for five and a half years in the Waterberg Biosphere in South Africa. In 2017 Michelle spent a year backpacking around the globe, travelling from one national park to another. At the end of the year she spent three months guiding in Antarctica. She now divides her time between the African sun and the Antarctic ice, sharing with guests her passion for whales, birds and photography. Her thrill for adventure, the outdoors and adrenaline are at the core of her photography and writing. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram.