Heavy bur­den

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QROELENE MARX from Pre­to­ria writes: I saw this im­pala ram near the Longwe view­point over­look­ing En­gel­hard Dam in the Kruger Park. Is it an in­jury? Does it have can­cer? It cer­tainly looks un­com­fort­able… Is there a chance the buck will re­cover, or will it end up as lion food?

AWildlife ex­pert LD VAN ESSEN says: This could be the re­sult of tes­tic­u­lar tor­tion and a twist­ing of the cord that sup­plies blood to the scro­tum. It’s not clear from the photo whether the scro­tum is pur­ple due to a lack of blood. It could also be the im­pala’s nor­mal skin colour made vis­i­ble by hair loss. A tes­tic­u­lar tu­mour is a pos­si­bil­ity, but it’s very rare. It’s very painful and will af­fect the an­i­mal’s con­di­tion and pos­ture. This im­pala ram looks fairly healthy, es­pe­cially if you con­sider that this photo was taken in Septem­ber, af­ter the win­ter. The an­te­lope is also graz­ing so its ap­petite seems in­tact. From a hu­man per­spec­tive, it might look un­com­fort­able, but it might be less so if you’re an an­i­mal fo­cused on sur­vival. If the con­di­tion af­fects the im­pala’s abil­ity to evade preda­tors, its days are num­bered. Oth­er­wise it could live a long life.

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