The circle of life

A few days ago, on a calm and sunny morning, one of Mother Nature’s spectacles unfolded and my guests and I were fortunate to be allowed to witness it.

We were heading towards the southern plains, where I’d heard rhinos had been spotted, when something unusual caught my eye. It was a black-backed jackal growling at a female blue wildebeest – much too large for a jackal to consider taking on – so I stopped to figure out what was going on. Upon closer inspection, I realised that the reason for the standoff between her and the jackal was a stillborn blue wildebeest calf.

Jackal and wildebeest stand off

The wildebeest cow edged closer to the jackal, shaking her head, stomping and snorting threateningly. Then, without warning, she turned and walked away, resigned to the fact that there was no hope for her unmoving calf. Within seconds, the air became dim as vultures waiting in nearby trees flocked in for the feast and the jackal, no match for them, backed off with a wild howl. The sound was unexpected, and was followed by an equally unexpected yet delightful surprise: three young jackal pups! They crept out from under a nearby bush and sidled over to their mother, who led them away from the flurry of feathers and off to safety.

Jackals and vultures

There’s no room for happiness or sadness in sightings like these – only awe and gratitude for the chance to witness the circle of life run its course in the African bushveld.

Written by: Alister Kemp
Kapama Southern Camp