One of the joys of wildlife photography is observing and photographing animal behaviours. I particularly love recording the interaction between mothers and their offspring. Young animals in the wild are extremely vulnerable to a range of dangers including predation by other animals, the elements, and misadventure. Protecting their offspring is a 24/7 job for mothers.
In protecting, nurturing, and raising their young, mothers display an extraordinary degree of patience as shown in the image above. During each outing with her cubs, a lioness endeavours to teach them the skills that they will need to eventually survive in the wild, but all work and no play doesn’t go over well with this young student who decides to take a time out from the day’s lesson to hitch a ride on his mother’s back while mother takes everything in her stride. All part of parenting.
In the wilds of Africa, young elephants are in constant danger from predators like lions, leopards, and hyenas. Elephant calves are cared for by the herd consisting of related females from several generations. Elephants in the herd will form a circle around their young to protect them from predators. No predator is likely to mess with a wall of elephants.
The bison calving season in Yellowstone National Park begins in late April. Although spring has officially arrived, temperatures still dip below the freezing point. Sudden snow squalls can spring up at any time of day. This calf knows that mother can protect it from the cold and wind.
East Africa has one of the world’s largest animal migrations in the world where more than two million animals follow a clockwise route in the search of food and water. Calving season for wildebeest takes place during a three-week period in late January to mid-February.
Because of their ungainly looks, wildebeest appear on Africa’s list of the “ugly five.” The image above shows a mother taking a first look at her new-born calf. The viewer can visualize her emotion of pride and joy. There’s certainly nothing ugly about this mother.
The Yellowstone ecosystem provides an ideal habitat for a number of animals, but road crossings can prove hazardous. The young are particularly vulnerable. Adult animals take great precaution when crossing the road with their young. In this image of a mother grizzly and her young cub, mother turns to be sure that her cub has crossed safely.
Olive Baboon mothers are extremely protective of their young. For the first few weeks after birth, the young are carried on their mothers’ breasts with easy access to breast milk. You can see the love evident in this image as mother baboon caresses her baby.
Like young humans, young animals can often be seen seeking affection from their mothers. In this image, a young calf gives mother a gentle kiss on the side of her nose.
On a visit to North Seymore Island in the Galapagos, I watched this young sea lion leave the water, move across the beach, and approach its mother. The reunion of mother and child resulted in a playful rection and culminated with this affectionate cuddle. You can see the pure love and joy in the faces of both mother and child.
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