A baby girl was born on Friday in the Sterkfontein Caves. Though two months premature, the baby and her mother were reported to be in good health after being rushed to Leratong Hospital.
Baby Girl Born at the Sterkfontein Caves
As a pregnant woman toured the historic Sterkfontein Caves in Krugersdorp, her 7-month-old baby decided it was her time to make her own history. The woman reportedly felt a sharp stab of pain in her abdomen while on the afternoon tour.
Paramedics were immediately called, but as the woman fell into labor, the tour guides and a maintenance worker vaulted into action in the caves to deliver the baby. The tour guides, Motlhatsi Mochela, Onica Kekae, and Lindiwe Mahlangu, as well as the maintenance man Jacque Deysel acted as midwives for the ailing mother in labor. Luckily for the woman and her impatient baby, the workers were trained in first aid and handled the stressful situation with grace under pressure.
Shortly after the onset of labor, the premature baby emerged into the world at the famous Maropeng World Heritage site. The paramedics arrived as quickly as possible, though they had missed the baby’s arrival. The quick action of the workers turned midwives quite possibly saved the child and the woman. Paramedics took the woman and her baby girl to the Leratong Hospital.
The Cradle of Humankind, a Popular Place for Life
Both the mother and the newly-born baby are healthy according to reports. Though the beautiful baby girl may have been the most recent birth in the Sterkfontein Caves, the Krugersdorp caves have been home to many. Albeit, those other inhabitants are millions of years old.
Within the Sterkfontein Caves, some remarkable discoveries have been made, including STS-5 or Mrs. Ples, an Australopithecus africanus skeleton around 2.5 million years old. Little Foot, probably one of the most famous discoveries was also uncovered in the caves. Little Foot is a partial skeleton excavated from calcified sediment that has been dated to around 3.3 million years ago. It took about 15 years to fully excavate Little Foot.
The caves are in an area known as the Cradle of Humankind, which have become world-famous for the fossils found within the area, including the fossil of another child a few years older than this weekend’s addition. The Taung child, another Australopithecus africanus skeleton is believed to be about 2.8 million years old. The child had only lived to be about 3-4 years old.
Tourism at the Sterkfontein Caves
The rich paleo-archaeological history of the Sterkfontein Caves have made the place an important research site. The University of Witwatersrand owns the caves and have led the main excavations that have uncovered Mrs. Ples and Little Foot.
The caves have also become a popular tourist destination. Tours are conducted every half hour and run seven days a week. The cost is 165 rand for adults and 97 rand for children, although discounts are given to pensioners and students, and children under 4 years of age have no-cost admission. And if you’re born during the tour, like this weekend’s birth, the tour of the Sterkfontein Caves will be free.