Protection of Young | Botswana Wildlife Guide

Oryyx defending their calf from cheetahs. Lee Kemp
The African Wilderness, with all its predators, is a place where adapting survival skills is important and many species have adapted unique ways to protect their vulnerable offspring.

By Leigh Kemp

Surviving the Migration

Animals protect their young from danger in a number of ways. With traditionally migratory animals such as the Wildebeest the young are able to run and keep up with the adults within an hour of birth. This adaptation ensures that the herds are not delayed by slow moving individuals. If the young were not strong enough to move immediately the migration would be slowed, leaving the herds susceptible to thirst and starvation.

Herd mentality

Elephant and Buffalo move their young into the middle of the herd at any sign of danger and in so doing present a show of strength and predators will seldom attack animals when presented with such a show of strength. However Lions, and even Hyenas, have been known to mock charge herds in attempts at stampeding the individuals, and getting at the vulnerable young.

Predators Protecting Their Young

The young of predators are also vulnerable to attacks, and as such the predators also have to adapt protection techniques. Leopards and Lions hide their young from other predators and Baboons, as the young will be killed without hesitation should they be chanced upon by other species.

When danger threatens their young Lion and Leopard will mock charge intruders, in an attempt at scaring them away.

Birds on the Ground

Numerous species of birds will act as if they are injured so as to attract perceived danger away from their young. It is mostly the ground breeders that do this. I have observed Lapwings screeching and flapping their wings at Elephants that have been walking toward their nests.

Lapwings, and other bird species, move away from their young when perceiving danger. They will drag a wing or walk with bended knees to show some sort of weakness so as to trick the predator into thinking they are wounded, and as such will lead the predator away from the young. When the predator gets too close to them they will simply fly off.
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