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Evolutionary Ecology of Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) in Etosha National Park, Namibia

The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) occupies a variety of habitats across sub-Saharan Africa. It is characterised by a loose social organisation, and a dominance driven polygynous mating system. This project sought to explain biogeographic and inter-sexual variation in pelage colouration in the context of natural and sexual selection. I also sought to test the hypothesis that in a semi-arid environment, limited resources (food and water) would predictably concentrate females, increasing the potential for dominant males to monopolise matings. I analysed photos

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The diet selection, habitat preferences and spatial ecology of relocated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Old records and historic eyewitness accounts of giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) in the Kalahari, led to the decision by park management to reintroduce giraffe in 1991. Twenty years ago (1991) the translocation of 8 giraffe from the Etosha National Park took place to an area in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park which there is limited information as to their adaptation success or potential impact on the environment. The giraffe was transported to a specially built boma measuring a few hundred hectares in

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Relationships between male giraffes’ colour, age and sociability

In species in which males signal competitive ability through secondary sexual traits, males with different levels of trait expression may adopt different reproductive tactics to maximize their reproductive success. In fission-fusion social systems, the most dominant males often roam widely in search of females in oestrus, and thus exhibit different patterns of sociability from subordinate males that utilize alternative reproductive tactics. Giraffes, Giraffa camelopardalis, are rare among mammals in that they are sexually dimorphic in colour, and colour is hypothesized

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Current knowledge about the social organisation of giraffes

The Etosha Giraffe Research project in Namibia focuses on the social relationships among giraffes, which have previously been described as having little social structure nor strong bonds between individuals (Dagg and Foster, 1976; Le Pendu et al., 2000; Moss, 1976). Giraffes live in a fission-fusion society characterised by frequent changes of associates, with males adopting a roaming strategy to search for widely distributed female groups (Bashaw et al., 2007; Bercovitch et al., 2006; Dagg and Foster, 1976; Shorrocks and Croft,

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Arthropod parasites of springbok, gemsbok, kudus, giraffes and Burchell’s and Hartmann’s zebras in the Etosha and Hardap Nature Reserve, Namibia

A total of 48 springbok, 48 gemsbok, 23 kudus and 6 giraffes were examined for ticks and lice, while 9 Burchell’s zebras and 6 Hartmann’s mountain zebras were examined only for ticks. Springbok and gemsbok were shot in both the Etosha National Park in the north and the Hardap Nature Reserve in the south of Namibia. All the other animals were shot in the Etosha National Park. A total of 7 ixodid tick species and 8 lice species were recovered.

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Internal parasites of giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis) from Etosha National Park, Namibia

During three seasonal periods, parasitological samples were collected from six giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis) in the Etosha National Park, Namibia. The helminths recovered included Parabronema skrjabini, Skrjabinema spp., Haemonchus mitchelli and Echinococcus sp. larvae; Cytauxzoon sp. was the only hematozoan found. The low mean abundances of all helminths which ranged from 18 to 531 may be attributed to the low rainfall of this region or because the giraffe is not a preferred host for these species of helminths.

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Development of 11 microsatellite markers for Giraffa camelopardalis through 454 pyrosequencing, with primer options for an additional 458 microsatellites

Many wild giraffe populations are declining across Africa, with two subspecies listed by the IUCN as Endangered in the past 4 years. We developed 11 microsatellite markers from Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis in Etosha National Park, Namibia using 454 sequencing. In 70 individuals, the loci showed 2–4 alleles per locus and expected heterozygosities of 0.082–0.711. There were no significant deviations from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium for any of the loci. Null allele frequencies were low (<3 %) across all loci. We present primer options for

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Leopard predation on giraffe calves in the Etosha National Park

Published intonation on the diet of the leopard Panthera pardus reveals that they are opportunistic feeders that prey mainly on small to medium sized animals, but are able to kill herbivores of more than twice their body mass (Smithers 1983; Bothma & LeRiche 1984; Norton et al. i984). Records of leopard kill for the Etosha National Park, held by the Ministry of Wildlife, Conservation and Tourism. Namibia. include black-backed jackal Canis mesomelas,  kudu calves Traqelaphus strepsiceros, springbok Antidorcas marsupialis, black-faced

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Fission-fusion dynamics in wild giraffes may be driven by kinship, spatial overlap and individual social preferences

Many species exhibit fission-fusion dynamics, yet the factors that influence the frequent changes in group size and membership in these species have not been widely studied. Social ties may be influenced by kinship but animals may also form preferred associations because of social attraction or may only associate because they have similar habitat preferences. We investigated the association patterns of 535 wild giraffes, Giraffa camelopardalis, in Etosha National Park, Namibia using behavioural and genetic data from individually identified giraffes. We

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Social networks, long-term associations and age-related sociability of wild giraffes

Long-term studies of sociality in wild animals are rare, despite being critical for determining the benefits of social relationships and testing how long such relationships last and whether they change as individuals age. Knowledge about social relationships in animal species that exhibit fission-fusion dynamics can enhance our understanding of the evolution of close social bonds in humans, who also have a fission-fusion social system. We analysed the social network of wild giraffes, Giraffa camelopardalis, in Etosha National Park, Namibia, from

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