Friday 14 September 2018

A mother's devotion

Here we go: my first photographic story after my return to blogging!

In January of 2018, we headed to one of our favourite safari destinations: The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. This is where a great deal of our time in the bush is spent, and we have been making a tradition of returning every summer for the past few years.

This specific sighting unfolded in the perennial Auob riverbed, not too far south of the Mata-Mata campsite. After spending the better part of the morning with a large pride of lions who had occupied the Craig Lockhart waterhole, we came across this sight:

A springbok ewe had given birth, one of the first fawns dropping in this year's summer! Still frail and weak, the fawn was not able to get up yet. The mother was grazing close by, and eventually moved in closer to give some encouragement to get up. My little daughter of nearly 7 years old, who was in the vehicle with us, was very excited by seeing this for the very first time.

The little fawn did not even seem to want to try to get up. There were a couple of black-backed jackals milling about, and they are very opportunistic, eager to grab any easy meal. The next few minutes would determine whether this little springbok had a chance to live.

Mom would meander away and graze to divert attention away from the fawn when she saw the jackals watching from a distance. Every so often she would return to try and nudge it into action.

It did not take long for the jackals to notice that the little fawn was not making much effort to get up and start walking...and so the game of cat and mouse began...

The first jackal approached from behind the mother, and she turned to face him!

She was not going to let these scoundrels take her baby without a valiant fight...

The jackals were very sneaky, though, and it was apparent that they had a strategy to "outfox" (excuse the pun) the mother of the little one. While she was fending off once jackal, another would come from behind and grab the fawn.

But mom was doing her best to fight for her little fawn. She charged in again, and forced this jackal to also drop his bounty and scoot away...

The drama kept unfolding. With mom's attention now on the newest attacker, another subversive scavenger could sneak in from a different angle and try its luck...

Mom noticed, and gave a valiant chase...but alas, this was the end of the line. Just as she was catching up on the newest thief, the jackal dove into a thorny shrub to start consuming his prize. We surmised the fawn had succumbed at the bite of the first jackal already.

Needless to say the vehicle was silent for a while, and then my daughter burst into tears. She is not a fan of black-backed jackals to this day!

Let me know what you think. Not the nicest story, but part of the drama of being on safari for sure.

Morkel Erasmus


  1. Great nature story, not easy for youngsters to watch. Great captures of the scene/story

  2. Sorry sight but that is nature. Jackals have to eat too.

  3. I have witness black backed jackals snatch a newborn antelope too... It broke my heart but had to accept of life...

  4. Sad for the mother and her baby :' (