To give birth and rear children is a blessing and the relationship which is created between mother and child is unique. Mother provides care and sustenance, love and care, taking great pride in seeing a child growing into maturity and going out into the World.
Women in maternity dresses nurture the child in the womb, breast feed and care for the baby once born, the whole thing has been natural throughout the ages of man, and is equally applicable in the animal kingdom.
There have been fictional books written about the rearing of children in the Wild, Tarzan by apes in the jungle, Mowgli raised by wolves in Central India in Rudyard Kipling's famous novel, the Jungle Book, but a factual situation that has been repeated on a number of occasions can actually be seen on film, the attempt to rear orphaned antelopes, oryx, by a lioness in Samburu National Game Reserve in Northern Kenya.
The river running through the Park is the only reason why wildlife is sustainable, but even this river can be dry for long periods in which case its large nile crocodile population merely hibernates in the drying mud of the river bed and waits for rains to come, and the river to flow again.
The lioness and the baby oryx first came on to our screens in 2008 but in fact the action had taken place a few years earlier when the female lioness was thought to be only two or three years old. An orphaned oryx just a few days old was wandering around in this most arid of Parks, and came upon a lioness who instead of seeing this youngster as prey, stood guard over it for nearly two weeks before a male lion came and killed it. A sad ending but fairly inevitable because the oryx was in need of its mother's milk, and being orphaned and deprived of that milk had no chance of survival.
The locals named this lioness, Kamunyak, blessed one in maa, the language of the Samburu Tribe who still live the traditional nomadic lives of their forefathers, continually taking their herds of cattle, goats, sheep and even camels in search of water.
Kamunyak by all accounts adopted five other antelopes in the same way. On two occasions the mother returned within a couple of days and the pair ran off but where the mother did not reappear, Kamunyak failed to keep the baby alive for more than a few days due to the lack of milk.
There are a few theories about Kamunyak who has not been seen for a few years now. Possibly barren, and with the oryx looking a similar colour to a lion cub, she was trying to fulfil her maternal instincts, but a solitary lioness who should have been part of a pride has more problems than being barren so that does no fully explain this unique animal.
She would have been a very good mother of cubs, but it seems that it did not happen. The blessed one has not had the blessing of offspring unlike millions of women, dressed in maternity dresses during pregnancy, and ever caring once they have given birth.