With the rains come new life
Over the past 6 weeks Karongwe has been blessed with well over 150mm of rain. This includes having 77mm dumped in the past 5 days. With the rain brings new life, in plants and animals. A lot of the antelope species in the area try to time their pregnancy for when the first rains arrive so that there is plenty of food available for the young. This has been very evident over the past few weeks.
Impala are very well known for giving birth as soon as the first rains come. In fact it is also reported that a female can delay the birth for a few weeks if the rains are late. Whether there is any scientific evidence to this we are not sure! However we can safely say that the rains arriving has kickstarted the birthing of the calves! Everywhere you look on the reserve at the moment, there is a baby impala. You cannot drive past a herd without there being at least one youngster in it, with most herds having 6 or 7! Seeing these amazing little creatures jumping around with such control when are they are so young is amazing to see! Of course they have to be able to run at such a young age because they are very vulnerable to predators! Unfortunately this is part of nature.. but to see them so happy and full of life at such a young age is so great to see.
Along with the impala, we have been seeing many other little babies running around. There have been quite a few small zebra spotted on drive, along with tiny little warthog piglets. Along with the herbivores giving birth.. we can happily confirm that we have 4 new tiny lion cubs on the reserve! They have only been seen by a handful of people, and we can proudly say we have seen 4 cubs scampering around on the rock where their densite is! We estimate they are about 6 weeks old, and although we only got a glimpsing view of them, it was still a privilege to see such young life! These little ones may have not been born specifically to coincide with the rains, but it certainly helps with all the new prey around! Along with these little predators being seen, we are now also hoping that we may have cheetah cubs in 3 months time. For the first time that we know of, our female and male cheetah met up in front of one of our cars and mated in clear view! Cheetah are becoming extremely rare in the wild and to see them mating is a once in a life time sighting. Safe to say the volunteers and staff member Hopkins, were gobsmacked, speechless and some even had tears in their eyes! INCREDIBLE.
Of course it has not only been the mammals that have there young now. We have seen on a lot of little chicks all over the place. At our base we have our resident swallows and red-headed weavers building their nests and raising their young. We have also been seeing little francolin chicks running around in the fresh long grass. Francolin’s have precocial chicks. These chicks are born with their eyes open, are able to walk almost immediately, and have small feathers on their body. Francolin’s are ground nesting birds and obviously they have a need for their chicks to be able to run quickly because of predators. Whereas brids who nest in trees etc have altricial chicks. These chicks are born blind, helpless and naked. They depend completely on their parents to feed them and keep them safe. We are seeing so many birds flying around at the moment its a birders dream!
The rain has really been a blessing over the past few weeks after such a dry year! We hope the rains keep coming and rejuvinate the plants, and fills the rivers and dams for the animals!