09 October 2011

A newborn kid (of the goat variety)

One of the most memorable things Kim and I got to witness on our hike was a young Maasai goat-herder and his interaction with a doe (female goat) and her newborn kid. 

After two and a half hours of walking, we decided to find a spot to eat our sandwiches. While doing so, a herd of goats wandered by.

Take a close look at the herder. Do you see the newborn kid dangling from one leg?

I've actually seen this fairly often. I think I always had the idea in my head that a shepherd/goatherd would gently carry a newborn in the crook of his arm. Not here in Kenya :)

My guess is that this kid had been born that morning... AS the goats moved around and grazed. Still guessing... I think that because the Maasai lad has no real way to corral the rest of the herd (numbering 30-40) to allow the kid to suckle... he just grabs it by the leg and the normal routine of meandering and grazing continues.

What I hadn't seen before, is what the following photos show.

The herder placed the kid on the ground. After locating the mother, he grabbed her by a foreleg and pulled it over to the kid. He gently forced her head down to the kid, until it was touching (or almost touching).

He patiently held it in this position for 5-10 minutes. Kim and I think that he was forcing the mother to get the scent of her offspring... and possibly forcing the kid to get the scent of its mother. The doe didn't seem to me to so excited about this task. Maybe she would rather be grazing like the other goats.

At one point, she wrestled away went to join the rest of the herd. In the photo above, you can see her coming back to her kid. Apparently her instinct kicked in and she realized this was her responsibility.

The children in the photo apparently lived nearby. They seemed to be as fascinated as Kim and I, watching this process unfold.

Soon, the mother came back to the kid, and sniffed it on her own volition. She then bleated a few times. My guess is she was communicating to the kid, "I'm your mother. I'm here to care for you. You belong to me."

And so... mission accomplished... the herd continued to lazily move along and graze... and the kid was once more dangled from the hand of the herder. I guess that's where it spent the remainder of the day... until they reached the manyatta (home) at dusk.

Kim and I marveled at what we were privileged to witness.

Such an elemental fact of life... the way God created it to be.

Kim, enjoying the unfolding scene


Anonymous said...

How very cool is that!! love the shots ... and the story that goes along with it!

deb said...

It was - for sure - a very cool experience!