Giraffe mother–calf relationships in the miombo woodland of Katavi National Park, Tanzania

Both predator pressure and habitat type influence mother–offspring relationship. Giraffe’s herd size and herd composition can be influenced by these two environmental factors. We sought to uncover whether predator pressure and habitat type also have an impact on giraffe mother–calf proximity and time spent together. We studied giraffe mother–calf relationships to compare mother–calf dyadic relationships in dense woodland with those reported in open woodlands. We collected data from three calves (within the first six months after birth) and their mothers at the miombo woodland of Katavi National Park, Tanzania. We observed the mother giraffe leaving or staying with her calf and recorded the initiation and termination of each of these behaviors. We found that the duration of both states was rarely more than 1 h. We never observed a mother leaving her calf for more than 1.5 h, as has been reported in open woodlands. We found that in calf–calf dyads, giraffe were more likely to maintain closer proximity to one another than in female–calf dyads. Our results suggest that the flexibility recorded in mother–calf social relationships is influenced by both social and ecological factors, differing to some extent in tree density, food preference during nursing, and predators’ prey preference.

Last Updated
January 26, 2021
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