Amazing Facts About Wildlife

The word `impossible` is not there in the dictionary of wildlife

The following picture and story which appeared in 'The Economist' Jan. 19-25, 2002 tells an amazing story.

Any relationship between a lioness and an oryx calf might be expected to be both brief, and terminal for the latter. That between the animals in the picture was, indeed, terminal for the calf. But it was by no means brief, and it was not the lioness that did the terminating. This odd couple was spotted in the Samburu game reserve in Kenya on December 21st, and was tracked and filmed by Saba and Dudu Douglas-Hamilton, two wildlife photographers, until another lion killed the calf. Cross-specific fostering of this sort can be made to happen in the laboratory, if the fostered individual is young enough to 'imprint' on another animals' though she were its mother ( and , obviously, if the surrogate mother accepts it-as she may if she has recently given birth). What makes this case bizarre is that the oryx's mother was still alive and lactating, and that the lioness was young and showed no sign of ever having given birth. Also, the Douglas-Hamiltons observed that it was the lioness who followed the calf ( for example when it went back to its mother to suckle), rather than the other way round. Why she wanted to adopt something that ought to have pressed the button labeled 'lunch' is a mystery.


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