And So A Duiker Is Born
A Duiker Family
Grey Duiker – Sylvicapra grimmia. Of all the antelope giving birth… finding a duiker giving birth in the wild is very uncommon. Another unusual phenomena is at the end of this story – now, don’t look! Keep the surprise.
Excuse the quality of the pictures. These photos were taken from a fair distance away and the baby was born in a fairly heavy mist as well. A further problem – and maybe an advantage to me – was that the mother was giving birth behind a tree and looking away from me.
So I found a spot and decided to stay where I was, taking my chances and wait it out until she stood up to feed the baby. Then I got the photos you see. Another point to consider is that these duiker are wild and very nervous, so I couldn’t creep up to them. I had to stay where I was and kept hidden while taking the photos until they left, after more than two hours. That was the pay-off, as you will see at the end… I said don’t look!
After about an hour you can see the short umbilical cord is now missing. Ether it fell off or mother bit it off. Now the baby is ready to travel in safety and comfort.
Hey! It’s behind me? Jackal, hyena, leopard, lion? Notice how they grow in danger.
In the bush, there are two things that can get you from behind, the buck you’re photographing will not warn you of and that’s a snake or a spider.
A few minutes after this photo the father showed up. I could not believe my eyes and immediately thought of the baby and its safety. Well it looked like this had been the plan from the beginning. I think the father might have seen the mother choose her spot to give birth. I have never heard of this happening with duiker before. It impressed me, that’s for sure. I was also pleased to think I might be moving soon.
So the Ram Joins In
I don’t know how many sticks I had in my arsenal after two hours in one spot. But I can tell you, it took some time for the pain to wear off.
Wildlife books are full of the information that duiker males never take any interest in the female after mating. And they mostly say that the male has nothing to do with the baby’s upbringing. It is said, to say it with pictures is best. These photos of the family together are around two hours after the mother gave birth. I also noticed she never moved until the male came to get her. That means the male was around somewhere in the bush awaiting his cue.
Well, here you have seen it for yourself. Adding to this – on further investigation on other days – we found the male duiker marking territory on trees around where the baby went to hide away to sleep. This happened time and again and in fact, happened yesterday while the female went off to eat. These duiker are very shy and it has taken a lot of sleuthing to find this all out. It seems obvious that this male duiker takes a very active role in the baby’s upbringing, as well as in the mother’s protection. I am very pleased we saw this story played out. The duiker it appears, have now disappeared and are nowhere to be found, after eight days in this one spot.
Cari and I are also convinced that the books have it wrong and may have to readjust their entries, if for nothing else… then for the new generation of duiker anyway. The former story is the one I’ve been taught through the years and is still in the books today. To get this scene replayed out again, may still take photographers some time into the future. So keep an eye out for further facts of this unrecorded wild phenomena.