Young male giraffes seek out new communities so that they will not mate with a relative. The journey into the unknown is fraught with danger. But some giraffes use a clever strategy, Zurich researchers note. The international team led by biologist Monica Bond of the University of Zurich observed more than 100 baby giraffes in the wild in northern Tanzania for seven years.
Domicile does not interfere with place of birth
Accordingly, most male giraffes leave their homes once they reach sexual maturity. But: a quarter of them changed their social communities, but where they lived overlapped with where they were born, researchers do in the specialist journal. Journal of Animal Ecology Messages.
Thus, the young giraffe killed two birds with one stone. The strategy prevented them from mating with a specific related person, but they could do without long trips to unknown and possibly dangerous places. On the other hand, young giraffes remained loyal to the society in which they were born: three out of four female giraffes observed remained close to their birthplace and in contact with familiar species.
In most mammals, females tend not to disperse because social relationships are important to their survival and rearing of their young, researcher Bond told Keystone-SDA news agency. “Then it’s often helpful to be in familiar areas to see where food and water are available and where the predators are.” The females also took care of the young men together.
The process by which sexually mature animals separate from their families is important to maintaining genetic diversity and is believed to be essential to the long-term survival of natural wildlife populations. “The better we understand this process, the better we can help protect the giraffe’s world,” Bond said.
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