A giraffe mother wills her newborn calf to stand up after 15 months of pregnancy, all the while having to defend it from lions, hyenas, jackals and vultures. Will the baby survive? ?
30-Year-old freelance guide and compliance officer Stef Botha - and Tania Lodder-Kotzé witnessed this heart-breaking, yet action-filled sighting recently. Stef shared the story and photographs with LatestSightings.com:
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"The previous day I saw (on the Latest Sightings WhatsApp group) that a mother giraffe had given birth, according to participants on the group the calf had been struggling to stand. The next day I visited Kruger for a drive and found the giraffe and the dead calf about 3km from Crocodile Bridge gate. I spent nearly five hours there filming everything that was happening."
"It was such an emotional sighting. Giraffes gestate for about 15 months and to lose a calf so shortly after giving birth must be a terrible experience. The calf must have died during the night and this mother giraffe stood there protecting it the whole night, up until the lions arrived the next morning. She kept a few jackals at bay, a hyena, and for a short while the lions. While she was chasing the hyena, the jackals would come in and feed on the little calf, it was terrible."
"She would bend down to lick the open wound trying to help the lifeless little calf. My heart broke for this giraffe who was just following her motherly instincts."
"At around, 11 am a lioness arrived on the scene, the mother giraffe still fought her off. It was only after the male lion arrived that the mother decided to give up. Perhaps because her own life was now at risk. As she walked off the male lion grabbed the giraffe calf and headed off into the bush with it."
"A lot of people stopped for a few minutes and then left. However, it is always best to have a bit of patience in these situations, you can learn so much from watching animal behavior."
Tania Lodder-Kotzé also shared her side of the story with LatestSightings.com:
"We were on our way to the S25 to see if we could find any cheetahs in the area when we saw this giraffe looking very stressed. She was pacing up and down and was staring at the ground - we were not totally sure what was going on. At first, we thought it was a cheetah lying down, but it turned out to be a newborn baby giraffe. The mother was walking back and forth from the calf. After a while, we saw that the baby was struggling to get up."
"Every time it tried to get up it either fell on its face or onto its side. It broke my heart to see him falling over all the time with mom trying to help and motivate him to get up. As a bystander you can get involved, so you just have to wait and see what might happen next. My husband and I came to the conclusion that the calf must have hurt its back or legs at birth and that was why it could not get up."
"Cries of oh and ahh of encouragement were plenty, but in vain"
"A vulture arrived at the scene to examine the baby giraffe and the crowd was struck with fear and anticipation. The mother giraffe came to the rescue and chased the vulture away. We all sighed with relief. Then a pair of jackals arrived and the mom chased them away a few times. We left with heavy hearts because we knew the little one was not going to make it. The next day we heard that the calf had died during the night. In the morning the mom had tried to keep the lions and hyenas away but, in the end, they got hold of the baby giraffe."
"I think you do not expect to see a calf not getting up. Normally when a giraffe has a baby the little one is up and about in a jiffy. It was a roller coaster of emotions because every time the little one sat up, we thought - okay now is the moment, it is going to get up...only to fall again."
"After three years of not being able to go to the Kruger, it was absolutely wonderful the be there and be part of the bush and see the animals again."
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