Baby Oryx at the Animal Orphanage!
A herder ‘the baby Oryx Guardian Angel’ walked miles away to the KWS station in Nanyuki to report that his herd of cattle had come back from herding with a stumbling baby animal which seemingly looked hours old as the umbilical cord was still so fresh. He was somehow convinced that the mother must have been a first time mom as they (animals) are known to abandon their first babies.
The KWS called requesting us to shelter him and as always we were happy to.
Our team drove together with the herder to his manyatta in Laik
ipia North and were welcomed by a ‘budding herder’ who was assigned to take care of the baby Oryx.
We waited outside for our bundle of joy and were all smiles to see the herder walk him from the manyatta where he was left with the other calves and the young boy when the rest went to herd.
The baby, as told by the herder, was so greedy and would not be satisfied with a single foster
mom’s milk. He had three foster moms who would breast feed him twice a day – in the morning and in the evening. It was the herder’s duty to keep changing so as to ensure that there was something left for the calf.
They named him Ngashe; a maasai name meaning – a cow’s calf as he merged with his foster mom’s that you would not tell he was of a different species.
Everything turned somber for the budding herder and his brother when they saw their father hand over the baby Oryx to us. The boy could not hold his tears and only a promise of a trip to the orphanage to see the Oryx calmed him down.
A fully grown Oryx is a large antelope of striking appearance with long, spearlike horns. It has a t
hick, horselike neck with a short mane and a compact, muscular body. They typically feed in early morning, late afternoon and sometimes on moonlit nights. Their diets consists mainly of coarse grasses and browse from thorny shrubs. In desert areas they consume thick leaved plants, wild melons, as well as roots and tubers they dig out of the ground. They may drink if water is available but can survive days or even weeks without it.
A female leaves the herd to give birth and hides the calf for 2 or 3 weeks, visiting a few times a day to nurse it. Like other antelope species, Oryx primarily depend on flight to escape from predators such as lions, wild dogs and hyenas.