Diurnal Behaviour and Utilization of Shade in Masai Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi)

Observations were carried out in the Masai Mara National Reserve in southwestern Kenya, which is the northern part of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem in Kenya and Tanzania. Activity and behaviour of Masai giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) was recorded with one-minute intervals for continuous periods of approximately twelve hours per day for two weeks in February and March 2007. The total observation time was 200 hours in females, 116 hours in males and 99 hours in offspring. The aim of the study was to investigate diurnal behaviour of the Masai giraffe and in particular their use of shade.

Adult giraffes in my study spent more than a third of their daytime foraging. The male giraffes in the study spent about the same time foraging as the females. The giraffes showed a peak of foraging in the late afternoon. Standing was observed mostly in the first half of the day. Lying was observed almost exclusively in offspring, mainly in early afternoon.

The giraffes did not use the shade in a very great extent neither for standing nor foraging. When they did use the shade it was during the hottest hours after noon. I suggest that giraffes save energy by minimizing energy-consuming activities at the most demanding hours of the day in favour of less energy-consuming activities such as standing. The use of shadow in my study was much lower than in other animals in the study area, e.g. wildebeest and zebra.

Last Updated
January 26, 2021
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