Social preferences of translocated giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa) in Senegal: Evidence for friendship among females?

Giraffe social behaviour and relationships are currently in the period of scientific renaissance, changing the former ideas of nonexisting social bonds into understanding of complex social structures of giraffe herds. Different giraffe subspecies have been studied in the wild and only one was subject of detailed study in captivity. Our study focused on the neglected Cape giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa). We investigated the social preferences of 28 introduced giraffes in semi-captivity in Bandia reserve, Senegal. Our aim was to assess the group size of Cape giraffes outside their native range and describe their social relationships. Mean group size in Bandia was 7.22 ± 4.06 (range 2-17). The dyads were classified according to strength of relationship (weak, medium, strong) using the association index. We reported weak and medium relationships in all types of dyads except female-juvenile. The strongest bond was found in mother-calf dyads. Three of 21 possible female dyads also demonstrated strong relationships. Those three dyads included six of seven adult females, which we labelled as friends. Females associated more frequently with calves of their friends then with calves of non-friend females. The strength of the relationship between calves depended on the strength of relationship between their mothers. We concluded that Cape giraffes in new environment have shown similar group size and nonrandom preference for conspecifics as shown in wild and captive studies.

Last Updated
January 27, 2021
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