The most special thing about the rainy season is that it's the best time to encounter tiny lambs, foals, calves, cubs & pups (see photo above of Bat-eared fox adult & pup).
Most wildlife species in Etosha synchronize their birthing season with the arrival of the rains, because the abundance of food & water guarantees the best start of a little life.
However, most furry parents, just like us humans, are very careful to present their vulnerable offspring too openly to outsiders. It therefore takes some patience, a keen eye & insider knowledge to spot and photograph these new earthlings.
Here are some tips of how to catch glimpses of these cuties:
1. Scan the herds & surroundings
When you come across herds of wildebeest, zebra or springbok stop your car & scan the herd with your binoculars. Often the adults use their bodies to block off their little ones against observers, so that they are easily overlooked (see photo below of zebra foal). It's also worthwhile to check on the ground behind dwarf shrubs or bushes as the young ones, just like human babies, like to take plenty of naps in a sheltered spot.
2. Check for burrows along the gravel roads
Jackals, Cape Foxes & Bat-eared foxes often dig their burrows along the edges of gravel roads. Most of the day their offspring hides underground, but during the first hour after sunrise & the last hour before sunset they do come out to explore the world.
The best approach we found is to drive very slowly along the roads. Scan for burrows & for adult jackals or foxes resting, 'cause they often do so near their den entrances. When you spot either of them, stop the car and wait. We've been rewarded many times for our patience. Within ten minutes the curious pups emerged from their safe den & started to scout the area. These playful & sometimes quite clumsy little cuties are such a joy to watch & photograph (see photo below of a Bat-eared fox pup).
3. Scan the edges of the shrub savanna
Although lions don't breed as seasonally as the other Etosha residents, they also often have cubs in the rainy season. Whilst mom & dad are out on a hunting trip, the cubs are left behind in the lions' den. But lion offspring, just as human kids, don't always strictly adhere to what they were told by their parents. They are tempted to ignore the well-meant advice, that's probably something like: "Hey kiddo, at all means DO STAY hidden until we're back..." and give in to their curiosity about the interesting 'outside world' (see photo below of a lion cub in Nebrowni shrubs).
Now we would love to hear from you:
1. Have you had any special encounters with these 'cuties' that you'll remember forever?
2. If not, which baby animals would you love to observe & photograph?
With best 'wild' wishes,
Claudia & Wynand du Plessis
Namibia wildlife & nature photographers