Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Bushbuck

When we returned home after seeing my family off in Kampala, I went out to the lab to check on the data sheets, field gear, etc. I heard a funny noise behind the house that sounded like a baby goat or a baby cow or something. I scoped it out and found a very confused baby bushbuck wandering around the back yard. It was calling out very loudly and kind of walking around in circles – clearly in need of its mother. There is a female bushbuck that hangs out around the field station and lives behind our house. One time, when trying to measure a tree behind the house, I went to step up on some branches and realized that it looked like a home, so I walked around. When I got to the other side, the bushbuck came darting out from the foliage and that is how we learned where the bushbuck lived. So this was clearly her baby and it was so little and cute. It was just figuring out that thing called walking and looked so pathetic. I got some pictures, but it was nervous, so it was trying to run away. See the picture below of the baby. And of the beautiful mother (taken at a different time, but good for comparison). I was sure that the baby wasn’t going to last long with how noisey it was being. There aren’t a ton of predators in Kibale – the random lion, which there hasn’t been one for a long time, and people say there are leopards, more often seen are the African Golden Cat (which may be remembered by some as scaring me half to death when it ran past me in the middle of the night), and the cervil (of course there are also chimps, which eat monkeys and sometimes the antelope and there are birds of prey that eat the monkeys). I don’t know if any of these would eat a baby bushbuck, but I can’t imagine that walking around advertising your vulnerability is a good idea.

Sure enough, we stopped seeing and hearing the baby after a few days and I was feeling really sad that something had gotten it. Jeff was more positive, though, that maybe it had learned to be quiet and hide itself. But what does Jeff know, right???? A few months later, Jeff came in from the latrine and said that he had seen something in the forest behind our house and it took his eyes a long time to focus, but he eventually saw that behind all the branches, there was a little bushbuck. I went out and looked and sure enough, the baby bushbuck was alive and well and quiet and hanging out. So for the last month of our stay at Kibale, we got to check in on our little bushbuck friend that has his/her little hide out place right behind our latrine. It was hard to see behind the branches, not because it wasn’t in plain view, but because it blended in so well. But after giving your eyes a few minutes to focus, you could always see it laying there, staring back at you about 10 feet away with its big ears. It had grown about 3x in size from when we first saw it. And a few times, we saw it standing up and moving around a bit back there. So cute! And its mom is still around all the time. Geez, we are going to miss that sort of stuff in America!

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