Zebra Cliffhanger

The late afternoon sky was broody and the scattered clouds hung in the sky like forgotten washing on a clothesline. The plains game were resolutely going about their business, when I came upon a scene that sucked the air out of my lungs and sent a jolt of pain through my stomach. 

Zebra foal lying motionless on the plains – January 2021

A zebra foal was lying prone on the ground while several fully grown zebras stood guard in squadron formation around him. I was convinced the poor mite was dead and joined the heart wrenching vigil over him from the safe distance of the Landy. From what I’ve read and understood in the past, zebras usually give birth at night and away from other zebras, so I wasn’t sure what had happened here.

Zebras standing guard over a baby zebra – January 2021

Suddenly there was an almost imperceptible twitch. Was my imagination getting the better of me? The African Savannah was dead quiet. The zebra guard remained watchful. 

Exhausted zebra having a little rest – January 2021

The zebra foal attempted to stand and flopped straight back down again. The effort it took for him to move was so intense that I felt exhausted – as if just the act of watching and wishing him alive was overtaxing.

Little zebra struggling to find his feet – January 2021

He remained on the ground and the seconds ticked on, morphing into minutes. With a massive effort he managed to manoeuvre himself into a standing position and stayed upright. He seemed as surprised as we were. He ventured a couple of tottering steps on his spindly legs. The co-ordination just to put one hoof in front of the other nearly set him back on the floor. 

Zebra managing to stay upright – January 2021

Zebra foals are born with inordinately long legs. This is a survival strategy that makes it more difficult for predators to identify the young in the herd. Their tummies line up with the adults and the black and white stripes blur into each other. The downside of this is that their legs are harder to control.

He made his way over to a zebra who seemed to be studiously ignoring him, while she grazed.  She even moved slightly away from him. He stumbled closer to her and put his head on her neck. Then he walked a few steps away and collapsed on the floor again. His long ungainly legs folded up neatly next to him. He put his head down and seemed to give up. 

Zebra lying down next to his Mommy – January 2021

The euphoria of seeing him stand up and move was quickly eclipsed by the overwhelming pathos of being back at square one. 

The effort of standing up just proved to be too much – January 2021

Still the zebra guard observed.

Eventually after time seemed suspended for a spell, he stood up and walked over to his mother on marginally firmer footing. Once again, he rubbed his head on her neck and this time she responded to him. Once he had had a drink, the zebra guard visibly relaxed and the herd mustered and started to move across the plain with the littlest member staying close to his Mommy.

Little zebra with his head on his Mommy’s neck – January 2021

I realised that I had probably arrived a few minutes late for his birth, but I had still had the privilege of watching some of his very first baby steps. I was amazed that within a couple of minutes after all this drama, he managed to follow his Mommy and the herd to a new location.

Moving along with the herd – January 2021

This week I came across two stunning blogs that I would like to share with you. If you are looking to join a blogging community, please take a look.



Published by Ally's Bush Tales

I am a lover of the African Bush, blessed to live for parts of the year on a Wildlife Estate in Limpopo, South Africa.

18 thoughts on “Zebra Cliffhanger

    1. Hi Dinah. If you scroll to the bottom it should pop up. Failing that I will try build one into the site to make it easier. Thanks for the interest it is much appreciated 😊

      1. Thanks! For some reason I couldn’t do it on my WordPress app. Had to go through the net and after I “liked” your homepage, the follow option popped up. Technology is so strange! Thanks for your beautiful work! I’m a lifelong animal lover. So your blog goes straight to my heart. You should join our group weekend coffee chat. I know others would love your blog too. You can post every Friday-Sunday. Just go to Natalie the Explorer blog for the link every Friday. Let me know if you need help getting in💜

  1. That is such an amazing experience! So many people just focus on the big five, that they miss a magical moment like this one! I think the dazzle of zebras experienced the same anxious anticipation as you did!

  2. Hi Ally, Welcome to Weekend Coffee Share link-up and thank you for sharing your blog and beautiful animal photos from South Africa. Please take your time to get familiar with the weekly link-up, check out my blog (I’m the hostess) and 2 or more other blogs, leave a comment, and link back to my blog post. I hope you enjoy the link-up and choose to return next weekend. Have a great week! #WeekendCoffeeShare

    1. Thanks Natalie. I was quite excited when Dinah invited me. I have read and commented on most of the blogs on the list already. Love being part of the community.

  3. Oh Wow, you were so privileged to witness these first steps, how wonderful, thank you for sharing. We have just come across your blog and love animal stories so will take a look around your site and follow. We have done just a small amount of the African continent but so want to do more when we can 😊

  4. A beautifully told story: suspense, excitement, elation, disappointment, and whew! a happy ending!
    Lovely images – how wonderful that you managed to catch this very personal part of Baby’s entry into the world!

      1. It must have been a heart-wrenching wait to watch events unfold, and so much relief when the little one finally got up!

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