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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: February 2014

5 - Individual behaviours


This chapter deals with the gaits and activities of individual giraffe with the exception of reproductive behaviour (Chapter 9) and the huge topic of feeding (Chapter 3).

Daytime activity patterns

In the early 1970s, Barbara and Walter Leuthold (1978b) documented over 230 hours what 12 giraffe did each day at different times of the year in Tsavo East National Park (their nightly activities remaining even yet a mystery). Their subjects were seven adult males, one subadult male and four adult females whose main preoccupation was usually food. The males spent from 15% to 49% of their time feeding, compared to 25–70% for the females. The males, who had more time on their hands, often necked or sparred in the mornings, as they had done also at Fleur de Lys ranch in South Africa (Innis, 1958). If giraffe chose to lie down at midday, they did so more often in large than in small groups, perhaps for security. If a male were after a female in oestrus, their feeding time, greatly reduced, was replaced by sexual activities. When giraffe weren’t feeding, they were often ruminating, looking blandly about as they did so.

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Toronto Globe and Mail 2012, 11 June, A16