A bit of background: Marula is my duiker – a small species of antelope named after the Afrikaans word meaning diver, which refers to the way the species jump into the bushes. I’ve been raising Marula since she was about 2 weeks old while I’ve been working at a wildlife rehabilitation centre in South Africa. It’s been a rollercoaster. She’s justa n antelope BUT knowing a life depends on you, how well you do your job and how much effort you put into it changes everything. It’s been 3am feeds, a few kicks and head-butts, obsessing about her poo (yeah, that happens!) and lots of cuddles. Five months down the line she’s healthy, loving and well…demented. I like to think she didn’t get it from me.
Her teenage phase has been typical: problems with authority, becoming a rebel without a cause and believing she’s invincible. Sounds like an average human, no?
Marula is no exception; she’s a very sociable and loving antelope. The problem is that because she’s grown up in safety she believes everyone around her can be her friend – in her reality this includes cheetah, lions, leopards and wild dogs.
A few days ago, bouncing around following a group of tourists she decided to walk into Guardian’s enclosure. Guardian is a black eagle that lives here due to a broken wing however he’s remarkably fast at hoping.
“Mmm, mmm, mmm yummy yummy”.
Marula, feeding on the dried leaves of the enclosure obviously didn’t think anything about it and luckily she was saved by her uncles that came running to take her out before Guardian had a chance to feast on her. To this day I think she still didn’t know.
A few days later Erin was walking Bullet, the one year old cheetah. Marula saw this stranger creature and of course, she wanted to say hi! Bullet is being walked by 2 people with one of those harnesses they put on big dogs. He’s remarkably strong for a one year old and just imagine the sudden hunger when she saw a tiny grey duiker bouncing around towards him. I don’t know why she thought hungry teeth were a welcome sign to her.
The joke of the day? Your baby tried to feed herself to Bullet.
No, no, no.
Luckily, she learned that some friends only want to eat you and kept her distance from then on. Bullet still eyes her like steak.