Many features recommend the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) for behavioural study: it is big, abundant, conspicuous, active by day, reasonably trusting of people, deliberate, and the best self-marked animal in existence. Surprisingly, its social behaviour has been largely neglected.
We studied giraffe exclusively for the following periods: February–March, 1975 and January–December, 1977 in the Serengeti National Park, July 1979–June 1980 in the Arusha National Park, and January–October, 1981 in the Tarangire National Park, totalling 3264 hours of observation directed principally to social behaviour. All of these parks are in northern Tanzania.
An earlier paper (Pratt and Anderson 1979) presented the results of a year's investigation of giraffe cow-calf relationships in the Serengeti National Park. That study demonstrated the strength of the cow-calf bond in agreement with the findings of Langman (1977) and described in quantitative fashion the behavioural patterns and interactions of mother and young, especially as related to the calf's nurture, protection, and preparation for adult life. We summarize here our observations of other types of social interactions among giraffe. Some of these were made during our year in the Arusha National Park (Pratt and Anderson 1982); to these have been added data from the Tarangire National Park.