Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Male Giraffe Behaviour

Despite its extreme length, a giraffe's neck is nonetheless too short to reach the ground/water or in this case a "salt-lick". Since I've discussed the difference in colour, patches and patterns of giraffe-coats before [SEE: previous blog-entries, esp during April 2013] today I want to concentrate on giraffe-facts, i.e. behaviour traits mostly "connected" to the giraffe's neck.

2 different giraffe the same "behaviour" (I photographed the giraffe above in the Pilansberg Game reserve whereas this giraffe "hails" from Namibia) - both look awkward as they have to spread their front legs in order to reach the ground.

During the same awkward-looking manoeuvre when reaching down to drink, a jugular vein contaning a series of 1-way valves prevents the back-flow of blood when a giraffe's head is bent down - this in fact prevents the giraffe from blacking out!

Another giraffe-way of reaching the water level to drink is to bend its knees (instead of spreading)  . . .

. . . so these 2 drinking giraffe obligingly demonstrate both ways of reaching low at one-and-the-same-time :)

Since giraffe usually only sleep for approx 5 minutes, they tend to rest whilst standing up. However they sometimes do lie down on the ground to sleep, in which case a giraffe tucks its front legs under itself . . .

. . . and holds its head up (or curls its neck back to rest its head on its rump).

Giraffe can moo, his, roar or whistle - although that is rarely heard. However finding male giraffe using their necks as weapons in combat occurs regularly - this behaviour is known as "necking", which is employed to establish dominance.

During "low" intensity necking, the combatants rub & lean against each other; however during "high" intensity bouts the combatants swing their necks at each other, landing heavy blows.

After a duel it is common behaviour for the 2 male giraffe to caress & court each other, leading to mounting & climax. Such interactions between male giraffe was found to happen far more frequently than heterosexual coupling.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Just for YOU

As promised - JUST FOR YOU (you know who you are) - the magnificent looking Noordhoek Beach just before Kommetjie along the Cape Peninsula.

At the same time I'm "using this opportunity" to post a few of the wild animals, which we encountered in the Kruger National Park during the last tour I guided (4-17 May).

Looks as if this buffalo wasn't amused by us disturbing him from feeding.

Is this female impala trying to say something?

Similarly this wildebeest appears to talk to us :)

Also not appearing amused this male warthog certainly is clearly "displaying" the 4 warts (on his face) from which it derives its name.

On our way out of this game park we "discovered" a few hyena habitually hiding their young in the drainage systems under many a road.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Closer Look

In conclusion of the "debate" about the 2 uniquely African animals - to which subspecies (of giraffe or zebra) they might belong - I thought of concentrating on (or having a closer look at) their coat/fur/hide.

When comparing the fur of this giraffe (photographed in the Pilansberg Game Reserve) . . . 

. . . with this giraffe's (photographed on a private game reserve in Namibia), the colour is very similar but the (pattern of the) spots is quite different.

In contrast this giraffe's spots are similar to those on the hide of the first-closer-look giraffe but the colour of the spots is entirely different (to those of the 2 above)  . . .

. . . whereas the colour of the spots is similar between these 2 (last) giraffe hides (both photographed in the Etosha Game Reserve), the size of the spots vary - especially with regard to more whitish/beige hair "between" the spots on this giraffe's coat . . .

. . . and yet another slight difference is visible when comparing the furs of the last 3 giraffe (this giraffe was photographed in the Hluhluwe Game Park) . . . 

. . . whereas colour-wise this giraffe (photograped in the Kruger National Park) is in a "class of its own" - yet geographically all of these giraffe should "belong" to only 1 of the 9 subspecies of giraffe found in Africa - the South African (or Transvaal) giraffe.

After a last closer look at the fur of a giraffe, let's take one more look at the numerous variations in the stripe-pattern of a typical Plains (commonly referred to as Burchell's) zebra - with its black flank stripes also covering the underparts, as well as the narrow (brown, yellow or grey) "shadow stripes" between the broad black rump stripes.

After some "resistance" at first, because I was under the impression that this is a different species instead of a subspecies of the Plains (Burchell's) zebra, I now believe that this is a Grant's zebra - even if there aren't any (visible) shadow stripes on the coat!!

In contrast I'm still not sure if we are looking at another subspecies of the Plains zebra, namely 2 Damara zebra - because they have (completely) white legs & were photographed in the Etosha Game reserve (where geological this subspecies is "at home") - OR if these are "real" Burchell's zebra (since according to some sources, the Burchell's is a subspecies of the Plains zebra) - this subspecies is also said to have NO stripes on the legs!!??