Although the best months to spot wildlife are from July to September, February offers an excellent opportunity to see newborns of zebras and wildebeests.
Common Zebras are animals that usually live in family groups of one adult male (stallion), several females (mares), and their offspring.Several families of zebras join forming large herds.
Zebras performs periodically dust baths to clean their fur and remove parasites.They do it by rolling their bodies onto the dust.I had the privilege to presence this activity and take the picture that you can see below.
Zebra males mature at the age of 4. At that age they compete with other males by kicking, pushing and biting at each other’s neck, head or legs.The victorious male forms an harem and mates with all its mares.The stallion has to defend his group from other males. When challenged, the stallion rubs his shoulder or nose with the other one as a warning sign.If the newcomer doesn’t follow the warning, a fight can start between them.
The gestation period of a mare lasts about one year.Once she give birth, the mare is ready again for breeding.Mares may deliver one baby, called foal, every year.The foal can stand and run within one day and start to eat grass within a week.Even though they continue to suckle for up to a year.Unfortunately the infant mortality rate is high, mainly due to predators like lions and hyenas.
Wildebeests are animals that live also in large herds, mixed sometimes with zebras, to defend themselves from predators.
Males reach their maturity at about 4 years of age.When mating season comes, the herd splits into smaller groups. Males perform all type of antics to impress females.They paw the ground, rub their heads on it, gallop and buck around their territories. They can be very aggressive towards other males.They urinate and defecate to mark their territory and warn other bulls.Their mating season, which last 3 weeks, is usually timed so that most of calves are born close to the beginning of the rainy season when new grass is abundant.This occurs during the months of February and March.
The gestation period is about 8 months and a half.Most of the calves are born within a 3 weeks period.Once they give birth, the calves are able to stand and run within a day and graze also within a week.Afterwards they remain very close to their mothers due to they are an easy target for predators and they continue suckling for one year.Nonetheless their infant mortality rate is also high.
In the picture above you can appreciate the paler coloration of calves.This is an adaptation to blend better with the environment to avoid predation.
Along the day i could see hyenas and lions actively looking for young calves.I could even witness a successful hunting of a young wildebeest by a Spotted Hyena.You can see it in the picture that i posted in my previous post.I felt very pity for the calf yet i thought that this is the way nature works, to hunt and not to be hunted.
If you check carefully the picture on top of the post you can see many calves of wildebeest.You can count them and post the number in a reply !
Even though i had already seen some of the animals in other national parks i enjoyed a lot in here.The high concentration of mammals and birds in such a small area was impressive and the astonsishing landscape was something that i didn’t see anywhere else.I have to admit that this was my favourite national park hands down !!
Afterwards the driver dropped me in Karatu,where I slept one night.Next morning i arranged a trip with a motorcycle driver to Lake Eyasi,where i visited many interesting tribes that inhabit the shores of the lake.One of the most interesting ones was the Hadzabe, an ancient tribe that has kept their traditional nomadic style for thousands of years.See picture below.
My next post i will talk about my following trip to Morocco, where i explored Ifran NP in search of Barbarian Monkeys !!
See you soon my friends !!!