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.