We caught up to this mother and her six cubs right as the sun was setting in Kenya’s famed Maasai Mara reserve. It’s unusual for one female to have so many cubs and even more rare to see her raise all of them to adulthood, which this mother managed to do. Cheetahs are the only diurnal big cat on the savannah and the cubs can fall prey to lions, leopards and hyenas, often during the nighttime hours.
Sometimes even a herd of elephants can spontaneously pop up out of the bushes! Our vehicle in South Africa was heading back to the lodge when we turned a corner to see this family taking up the road. At birth, a calf's trunk has no muscle tone, therefore it will suckle through its mouth. It takes several months for a calf to gain full control of its trunk. There are few things quite as humorous as a baby elephant learning how to use its trunk.
This dusty little foal watched us walk past on horseback in Kenya’s Lewa Reserve, whose more than 300 resident Grevy’s zebra represent a significant proportion of the remaining global population of their kind. Taller than the common zebra and with thin, elegant stripes, the Grevy’s zebra are alike to types of zebras in that their young are born with extra-long legs so that predators have a harder time picking them out from among the adults in the herd.
It’s hard to believe that a cute, tiny black pup can grow up to be one of Africa’s most reviled creatures! The spotted hyena is the largest of the three hyena species and although they look more like dogs, they are actually more closely related to cats. Each clan can have up to 80 individual members and are led by the dominant female.
It’s always a special treat to see a rhino baby as they are one of the most endangered species on the planet. This tiny white rhino and her mother had clearly spent the morning wallowing in the mud! White rhinos are said to have the most complex social structure of all the rhino species and mothers with calves will often form small groups, called a “crash of rhinoceros”.
Giraffe mothers have an odd reputation for forgetfulness. Mothers may seem to graze a bit too far away from their offspring for human comfort, however a calf can grow as much as an inch a day and by 6 months of age is already eating leaves and is fairly independent of its mother. These reticulated giraffe are part of a sub-species native to Somalia, southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya.
This graceful little antelope is called an Oribi and we spotted these two near Murchison Falls in Uganda. They are shy creatures who prefer camouflage as their first, and best, line of defense against their numerous predators. However, they are fast afoot. They can run at speeds of up to 40–50 km/h (25–31 mph).
Known as the King of Jungle, adult lions are fearsome and majestic figures however the tiny cubs are more like particularly pudgy kittens. They will play with a parent’s twitching tail, pounce on drifting specks of dust and trot dutifully along with their mother when it’s time to make a move. We found these four in the Maasai Mara, home to the famous Big Cat Diary on BBC, which takes armchair travelers inside the lives of these fascinating felines.
It’s the Serengeti Express! Or the Sabi Sands Express or even the Okavango Express – no matter where you go on safari, these charismatic pigs are known for their “trains” when they follow each other through the tall grass in single file, each tail sticking straight up in the air like a train’s smokestack. When they are relaxed, they get down on their front knees to feed on the grass since their short necks don’t allow them to bend all the way down.
“Cheeky monkey!” Every camp manager has the same bellow when they see these insatiably curious creatures sidle up to the tea table – quick as wink, they will have stolen the cake and escaped up a tree, trailing crumbs all along the way. Vervet monkeys live in social groups of up to 70 individuals, each with their own ideas of what to do with your toothbrush - so remember to zip up your safari tent.
Cuddle up with these adorable mother and baby pairs from the animal kingdom. From Kenya’s famed Maasai Mara reserve to Murchison Falls in Uganda, these photographs from the African Safari Company shows nature's most precious relationships.