Friday, August 8, 2008

Babysitting in the bush

While working at the lab tent this morning, I heard the unmistakable shrieks of fighting baboons in the bushes next to me. Since baboon brawls are a daily occurrence here, I ignored the screams and got back to work.

About a minute later, a baby impala staggered up to the tent and stared imploringly at me. For a moment, I stared back, confused.

Our camp attendant, Philomen, had seen the events unfold: first, a fight had broken out between several baboons. They raced through a nearby herd of impala, and in the chaos, this foal had been separated from its mother. He couldn’t have been more than a week or two old.

The tiny impala must have been injured in the chase, and he was bleeding from a small wound on its side. Clearly lost and scared, he stood just inches from me, trembling on long, spindly legs. Instinctively, I reached out to reassure the frightened little guy. He nuzzled right up to my hand, and I could feel his tiny heart racing. He lay down next to me, with his head at my feet.

Twenty minutes later, I heard a rustling in the bushes and another impala appeared. My new friend clambored awkwardly to his feet and reunited with his mother. She groomed him vigorously, licking the blood off his side. The two disappeared into the bushes; the baby wobbled along in front, and his mother followed close behind. A happy ending.


Katy said...

Poor little guy! What a great story Kate :)

Anonymous said...

Great experience for you, terrifying for mother and baby. The ending is another testament to the strength of maternal instincts.

Jaime said...


Michigan State University | College of Natural Science