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Politics of Survival

Coen van Wyk

Posted on September 22, 2018 11:07

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Life in the bush carries on as it has since time immemorial. The struggle for life against death is ever present. The basic questions show up how artificial, and, yes, irrelevant modern life has become. The latest gadget, fashion, political grandstanding vanishes in the stark questions of survival. Celebrities don't figure here, life does.

The parched African bush awaits the spring rains. The late summer is long past, when male Impala (Aepyceros melampus) had roared at opponents, herded immature males away, rounded up faithless females, and had challenged other males for the rights to procreate. Some males went without food for days, wearing themselves into a decline with the hectic activity. Some lost so much condition that they fell prey to parasites and disease. Then the rut passed, and winter came. The electoral season was over. The votes had been cast.

Male Impala with a few pregnant females

 

Pregnant females have to nourish the growing life within them with the meager leaves and dry grass of winter, balancing access to the ever dwindling water resources with the danger of ambush by predators. Now spring is upon the southern hemisphere, and while warm weather has returned the rains still stay away. If it comes too late the mothers will not have enough food, and will either abort or die. 

Cheeta mother and young, looking for prey

 

But if it the rains come, the babies, due in December or January, will soon form delightful ‘ballet schools’ of youngsters, while their parents begin to think again of the next vote for the dominant male. The youngsters will prance, make their impossibly graceful leaps while escaping ambush, grow and,in their turn, procreate. 

Females and an immature male, looking at a possible threat

 

Danger is ever-present. Drought forces the herds to the water, where the crocodiles wait. Lions and leopards wait along the water courses, cheetas seek open plains for their hunting.