WATCH: Lost Baby Wildebeest Mistakes Car for Mom
A small wildebeest calf that was separated from its herd in Africa ended up following cars instead.
In a video taken by Zaheer and Asma Ali, who were driving through Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa, the calf can be seen following the car down the road. It stops when the vehicle stops, wades through water to stay close to the vehicle, and sprints at times to keep up with it.
The calf may have followed the car because of the vehicle’s size, Zaheer Ali told the South African newspaper the Citizen. Wildebeest calves instinctively stay with their herd by following the largest moving object that they see nearby.
At one point in the video, the calf tries to suckle on the tires of the blue car, which could indicate that the calf thought the car was its mother. Zaheer Ali added that another collided with the calf when the animal suddenly changed direction.
After the Alis tried to get the calf to follow their car away from other vehicles in an attempt to protect it, the herd of blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) reappeared and the calf rejoined them, making its way back to its mother and drinking the milk that it was trying to find in vehicle tires.
Wildebeest give birth in the middle of their herds so that they are protected from predators like lions and cheetahs, and each mother has one calf at a time. Up to 500,000 calves are born each year, and calves learn to walk within minutes of being born. They are able to keep up with the herd when they are only a few days old.
Calving season for wildebeest comes right before their annual northward migration in May and June, when they go in search of greener grasslands for grazing. This migration is considered to be one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on Earth.