Priv­i­lege to walk wild side

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

From bask­ing in the pride of glo­ri­ous preda­tors to the awe-in­spir­ing first steps of a new­born gazelle, Ni­cole Mank­telow finds life is thrilling on sa­fari

SHE just seemed to ap­pear. A gen­tle, noble face sud­denly dis­cernible against the stun­ning back­drop.

The slen­der neck blended into rows of gold on gold – the colours of the Serengeti.

A Grant’s gazelle was look­ing right at us, just me­tres from the track, pic­ture per­fect and im­pos­si­ble to re­sist. I snapped the shut­ter as we took the bend. What hap­pened next may be my most trea­sured mem­ory of Africa. As the gazelle stood up, there was some­thing grey, some­thing that just fell away, some­thing with ears.

The ve­hi­cle came to a halt as all aboard gasped. There was an un­wieldy, wob­bly, im­pos­si­ble shape in the grass. It was a foal – tiny and ut­terly adorable. We stared at the new­born in awe. As it took its first breath, we be­gan hold­ing ours.

A mother gazelle must make her baby walk be­fore it can suckle. With hearts in mouths and fin­gers crossed, we watched for ex­actly 19 anx­ious min­utes as the young­ster faced its very first bat­tle for sur­vival, just find­ing its legs.

Right there, with ev­ery un­steady step and stum­ble, the risk of preda­tors never very far, was the stuff of life and death – ut­terly mes­meris­ing.

It was an in­cred­i­ble mo­ment on a day that was al­ready ex­tra­or­di­nary. That morn­ing

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