This is the magical moment a baby giraffe was welcomed into the world by its doting mother before taking its first tottering steps during a once-in-a-lifetime sighting.
Wildlife photographer Richard Lane, 46, waited for two hours for the mother to give birth after his guide spotted she was going into labour in the Masai Mara, in Kenya.
The tiny calf dropped six feet to the ground before mum helped clean the youngster up and protect it until it was ready to take its first steps.
Richard Lane, 46, a wildlife photographer from Wilshire, UK, took these images of a baby giraffe being born in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park in November last year
Mr Lane said he and his safari guide waited for two hours as the mother battled through labour, before the baby tumbled out in just a matter of seconds
After an hour the infant began to gingerly get to its feet and walk around, marking the beginning of its life in the game reserve.
Richard, from Westbury, Wiltshire, took the photos in November last year.
‘This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see such an amazing natural event. Seeing the baby emerge was such a magical moment.
‘We’d been watching for two hours after the giraffe first showed signs of being in labour.
‘I knew once it started to drop, I would have only seconds to capture the whole sequence.
The infant tumbled 6ft to the ground before its protective mother stood over it while it got used to its new surroundings
‘Once the youngster was born, its mother cleaned it and encouraged it to its feet. It was just over an hour before the little one took its first tottering steps.
‘As we watched the animal giving birth, we were all quite tense.
‘We hoped it’d happen relatively quickly as it was our last morning and we had a flight to catch.’
As Richard and his safari guide watched the birth, they were both delighted by the ‘very rare’ sighting.
Richard said: ‘To be able to witness it in its entirety was very rare – even our guide who is there every day of the year had not witnessed this before.
‘At the time we were by the Mara river having breakfast and another guide told us a giraffe looked like she was due to give birth. We raced there to make sure we witnessed it.
After around an hour the baby managed to get to its feet and took its first ginger steps into its new world
‘I couldn’t believe how quiet the whole process was, the mother didn’t make a sound during the whole three hours.
‘This is so she doesn’t attract any predators – it was a real example of natural grace.
‘Even now people are amazed to see the images and have the privilege of sharing the precious moment.
‘A common place event such as this is truly magical to watch as a human – it’s rarely seen in the wild.