By Bunmi Adigun @Bunmi_Adigun
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The rambunctious adult male approached the mother while she was nursing her newborn and decided to suckle from her teat.
This awkward encounter took place at the Massai Mara game reserve in Narok County, Kenya.
Wildlife photographer and New Zealand native, Robyn Preston captured the bizarre incident on her latest visit to the game reserve in June 2017.
She said: “This would have to be the weirdest behaviour I’ve seen in the wild. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, I thought at first it may have just been trying its luck but when it persisted, I thought that was very strange.
“I’ve never seen such a thing and I’ve been doing game drives since 2009.”
As well as being an accomplished photographer, Robyn is also a safari tour host which gives her access to a whole array of wildlife and animals.
On the day of the odd encounter Robyn was alerted to the fact that the mother was giving birth, so quickly raced to the scene with her driver in the hopes of capturing the special moment.
By the time she arrived the calf was still learning to walk and was being encouraged by its exhausted mother.
Robyn said: “We were with the mother and baby for one and half hours - from before the baby took its first steps until it walked off with its mother.”
Giraffe’s typically give birth standing up and on average it takes the newborn calf one hour to learn how to walk, which is critical to avoid predators in the area.
It was during this stage that the lone mother giraffe was approached by the bold male who then proceeded to join the calf by the suckling on her teat.
Although she was tired from giving birth the mother did her best to spurn the male’s advances.
She said: “The mother giraffe tried several times to kick away the male while he was suckling but she didn’t seem to have the energy after just having given birth. She moved her leg but she didn’t move her body. He took no time."
After numerous attempts of trying to get the mother’s attention the male then proceeded to try to mate with her an act he soon would regret.
“After his attempt at mating with her she had had enough and body slammed him before chasing him away. This was at the end of the time we were with them so she had, by this time, gained some strength.”
Thankfully during the unusual episode the newborn calf was unhurt and was not set upon by the male.
Robyn said: “The baby didn’t appear to be in any distress. I guess, being newborn, it wasn’t aware of the males’ behaviour being unusual.”
The mystery still remains as to why the male tried to suckle on the teat of the mother - a fact that has baffled the veteran photographer.
She said: “It’s my understanding that his attempt to mate was probably due to an increase in her hormones at the time of birth. All attempts to try and find out why he suckled have gone nowhere.
Perhaps a reader out there can explain his behaviour? It’s certainly a rare sighting.”