I’ve participated in the raising of four orphaned ungulates. While staying at the the clinic in 2010, hunters brought a tiny female Kob antelope. They’d killed the mother and found the baby in the grass. There was no bottle. No one at the clinic was prepared for the responsibility, but I got a syringe (there was no bottle) and warm milk from the cooks and started to feed her. I named her Lashes because of her long beautiful eyelashes.
In 2011, when Lashes was weaned, I was back staying at the clinic with Jef Foss, our architect. The Lost Boys Clinic was now the go-to place for orphaned ungulates. This time it was a Topi – an awkward looking baby with knobby knees, a bulbous nose and giant ears who will grow up to be as majestic as an elk. When the staff asked me to name it, Jef said – “She’s all legs.” And Legs became her name.
Both antelopes eventually left as they approached adulthood. A herd of 800,000 antelope migrate through Jonglei State in February and March – a migration second in size only to that of the Wildebeast in Kenya. I like to think she joined the herd. When she was out grazing with cattle, Legs was shot by a hunter who didn’t know she was tame.
In 2012, Andrew and Miriam Mara, ASAH supporters who traveled with us to Duk, fostered a gazelle they christened “Chill.” This past March Chill, too, ran off to find his kind. It was just as well, he became a bit of a pest as his horns grew and he longed to butt heads with another gazelle, using us as playful targets, though his horns were sharp enough and growing, so our guards held him down to blunt the tips.
Now we are home to Champion, a female Topi rescued by some of the ASAH girls who found him in the village – another antelope “rescued” by hunters who’d killed the mother. So once again we’re bottle feeding. Daruka, our matron, is the primary caretaker for the pets. My daughter Vika and I are staying in Daruka’s tukul, so we find Champion sleeping inside with us during the evenings, or on the rug on our doorstep when we rise in the morning.
- Where is Jane? (asahinsudan.wordpress.com)