The kid took a pounce and rubbed itself against the soft coat of its keeper. It curled up hard to feed itself, as it was just too long since it had its last meal. Even this time, no milk ! Not possible to suck it out of your predator, a carnivore.
It’s a real life story, awesomely covered and recorded by Sabah Douglas – Hamilton and her sister between January 2002 to August 2003. Far in Samburu National Reserve, Northern Kenya, there has been a wonder lioness, surprisingly adopting Oryx calves, again and again! And It has touched me in an amazing way when I saw the film- “Heart of a Lioness” on Animal Planet.
The documentary has shown how the lioness had adopted an antelope and constantly guarded it from other predators, as she herself has given up her predator being towards the baby! She made sure to stay around the Oryx calf and safeguard it. And what was more surprising? The big cat has starved throughout she was sheltering her adopted offspring ! And the hunger lasted for 17 long days!
Both mother and the kid roamed around the jungle, fighting many hardships. All that kept them together and alive was their affection for each other. For me, it was a sheer mother and a child relationship, though the wildlife experts did not have any explanation for this.
One fine day, when the mother was thirsty and moved to the nearby river, she could not anticipate the unexpected. A hungry male Lion took this chance and snubbed the little one. And the mother lioness was back to quietly see the disaster from a distance. She was too weak to fight the King Lion. Once the male was gone, all she could do was to move through the blood stains made by the kill and smell it closely. Her little baby was killed.
The very next day, the lioness caught a prey and ate her first meal after 17 days.
And that was not an end to it. Later, the lioness made five more adoptions, once at a time.
Many experts tried to reason this extraordinary event, in their own ways. Some thought, may be the lion was keen to have her own offspring and failed through it and was barren, that in turn made her adopt the oryx kid! I’m not sure about the perfect scientifically correct reason behind this phenomenon, but I strongly believe that the lioness learnt to become a mother by keeping and nurturing the kids. She was a true mother to all these six calves. And do we have an explanation to this beautiful bond of a mother and her child?
The lioness was last sighted in February 2004 and couldn’t be seen again,despite of a number of searches. She was named “Kamunyak” which means “The blessed one”. But, I call her “a mother”.