… small as ever, but now a mother
Bokkie Bok, our little grey duiker, has given birth! Visitors to HESC will have seen the dainty little buck in her enclosure not far from the main gate and will now also be able to view her little one there. Born only a few days ago, the little fawn is equally small and dainty, but within a day was firm on its feet and suckled eagerly and greedily. With dad in the same enclosure, we predict the threesome will attract much attention.
Duikers are small antelopes that inhabit forests or dense bushland. Shy by nature, they tend to duck into the bushes when disturbed, which is all the more reason why our Bokkie Bok is so appreciated. She has become used to visitors and is happy to be viewed and admired.
Bokkie Bok was brought to HESC some four years ago. Her mother was run over on a public road not far from HESC. The guilty party stopped to pick up the lifeless body and sped on. A motorist who witnessed the incident also stopped to inspect the scene and spotted a tiny fawn alongside the road. Knowing the little fawn had no chance of surviving on its own he picked up the terrified little animal and brought it to us. He was determined that this little one was not going to become easy prey to just any eagle, leopard, python or jackal!
Lente Roode was at HESC at the time and took it upon herself to raise the little creature – much of the time in her own bedroom, until she was old enough to be weaned and strong enough to be placed in the open-air enclosure. Although she was the only one of her species in the enclosure, she had the company of the steenbuck Steentjie, the blue cranes Donsie and John, and the leopard tortoise family.
An opportunity to provide a mate for Bokkie Bok arose when a little duiker ram was bought to the Maroela Animal Hospital in Hoedspruit at the end of January 2018. Only about a month old, he had been found alone in a field. He was raised by the HESC curator team after the Animal Hospital asked us to step in. As soon as he was old enough, we introduced him to Bokkie Bok. At first it was a struggle as she was not at all keen to share her enclosure, but she soon made peace with this handsome fellow and they became inseparable.
While we know duikers mature rapidly and females are able to conceive when they are about eight months old, we didn’t know whether anything would come of this liaison. We thought young Maroela, as we named the ram, may possibly have been too young to sire offspring, although the two were seen trying to mate. We nevertheless kept our fingers crossed and watched and waited … not paying much attention to the ever so slight thickening of the girth of our Bokkie Bok.
And then during our regular morning inspection of the animals in the enclosure earlier this week, we discovered the little fawn. Unbeknown to us, the miracle of birth had clearly taken place the previous night.
We’re not yet sure of the sex of the baby yet, but we’ll most certainly keep you updated.