Motherhood in the animal kingdom

Posted by Imogen Searra on 8 May 2020

Motherhood is a different tale for each and every being on this planet. To celebrate the upcoming Mother’s Day, we want to showcase what motherhood looks like in the animal kingdom.


Leopard moms are fierce protectors. Like most predator new borns, leopard cubs are very reliant on their moms. Mom will keep her babies out of sight in a den. When she does have to leave to hunt, her babies are very vulnerable to predators. If you have ever seen a leopard cub, consider yourself extremely lucky.


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Lionesses are the glue that keep a pride together. They are exceptional mothers, teaching their young how to hunt and fend for themselves, while pops gets to cash in on the kill after all the hard work is done.


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Mama cheetahs raise their cubs in isolation, moving her litter every four or so days. This is to prevent male lions from discovering her babies. Mom will teach her cubs to hunt and be self-sufficient and they will move off on their own at about 18 months.


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Not many have come between a hippo and her calf and lived to tell the tale. Hippo moms are ferocious and will stop at nothing to protect her baby. Once hippo calves are old enough to join the herd, hippo mothers will let their babies congregate, making it easier to keep an eye on all of them at once. Think: hippo ‘babysitting’.


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Ellies have to be the ultimate animal mom. Elephant herds are matriarchal and made up of the leading mother, her sisters and their babies. When a baby is born, all the ellies make sure to look out for mom and baby. It takes a village after all!


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Rhino moms care for their young for up to 3 years before they move off. In the current poaching climate, rhino moms deserve an extra special mention for their bravery, keeping their babies safe.


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Not so black and white. I remember this evening so clearly. The sequence of events will, for a long time. Maybe forever. Be engrained in my head. Black Rhino’s tend to spend their time in more thick bush where they feed and lay low, and this was my first time seeing one (two) out in the open. It also happened to be on my favourite grass plain, right as the sun was doing the most saucy dance with the horizon! The images and moments I remember so clearly, make me feel like the images we managed to capture that evening….. Are so average… And I guess they aren’t. But there were 3 of us taking pictures, and I really look at all of the ones that came out with a bit of a….. “mmmmm that’s fine; but it was so magical being there! We didn’t do much justice to it” Which….. In retrospect is just life. If (and when) you manage to find real excitement, realize true beauty, and allow yourself to be swallowed by….well pure froth (there’s really no better adjective that froth)…. Then there is just absolutely no way you can condense that feeling into a 2 dimensional image to put on a screen. And that’s a learning curve, an important realization I guess. And a star to shoot for with image capturing! Something you know is actually an impossible star to reach, but the closer you can get to sharing the feeling, the better you’ll be at storytelling, and the bigger impact you’ll be able to have on conservation storytelling. Anyway!!! Here’s a mom and her calf, dancing in the setting sunlight, enjoying the open space around them, finding great contentment in the fact that @jasederoves had gotten another flat tyre and we could no longer follow or move around them. Cause I mean, there’s always a better position to film from? But not if you’re running on a flat 😂 then you better make the most of where you are ✌🏼 Like life….Right.Now…. Don’t forget Dev: Always better to make the most of where you are right. Now.

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Image: Getaway Gallery/ Willem Kruger

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