It seems there was something in the water this year. While the U.k. is in the throngs of celebrating the birth of Prince George, here on Okonjima, we have been celebrating the births of our own little princes and princesses in the first 6 months of 2013. MJ one of our magnificent leopards is a proud mum yet again, Penta arrived with her 5 cubs after being caught on farmland, Dizzy produced the first cheetah cubs born in the wild in the Okonjima game reserve and then to surprise us all Tongs was found under a thicket with 4 baby cheetah cubs. A lot of hard work goes into the rehabilitation of all the leopards, cheetah and wild dogs that make their home at Okonjima so its always exciting to witness the patter of tiny paws in the reserve.
You are never quite sure what you will see when going on safari and that’s what makes it all the more exciting. Okonjima is well stocked with lots of game, and birds abound for endless fantastic photo opportunities but seeing a cub, that would be the icing on the cake for me. As the cubs grow older and start to move around with mum you may be one of the lucky ones who get to glimpse how gorgeous these youngsters are. One lucky group of visitors were amazed when in the midst of their game drive, MJ’s cub strolled up and under the game vehicle! Imagine telling that to your friends!
Just like human babies we all know the demands that those cute little bundles place on us in those first few months. In May one of the guides came across MJ and her cub at Zen Garden “When we arrived it seems like MJ wanted a good sleep (gosh I know that feeling) but the little one could not give her that chance as she kept on jumping on top of her mum, stalking and pouncing on her tail. This continued for hours until the sun went down, and then they decided to disappear into a thick bush.” Being able to witness these animals behaving naturally in a wild environment makes all the hard work worthwhile for those that work at AfriCat.
There have been trials and tribulations like any new parents, these rehabilitated carnivores are having to learn not only how to look after themselves again but also teach their young to survive. Beautiful brave Dizzy has lost two of her cubs but keeps the hope alive with her remaining cub as the AfriCat team strives towards the long-term survival of Namibia’s carnivores in their natural habitat and what a picture she gave us a few weeks back – the kind of mother and baby pic that will be treasured for ever.