What do you do with 35 years of records of giraffe sightings?
Well, Kuyenda Bushcamp’s Phil Berry has teamed up with Professor Fred Bercovitch to analyze the information he has been collecting over his years in the South Luangwa and figure out what is going on in the world of giraffe. The two of them have spent the last month at Kuyenda Bushcamp & Mfuwe Lodge writing a number of scientific papers that they plan to publish about the Thornicroft’s giraffe, a unique subspecies of the Luangwa Valley.
Among the more tantalizing findings are that giraffe tend to associate with friends and relatives. Contrary to earlier thinking, giraffe herds are not simply loose associations of giraffe that sometimes come together to feed on a particular item. Most herds consist of mothers and their daughters or sisters or giraffe who have grown up together. Males mostly wander alone, but, on occasion, they form “bachelor bands”. Why they do so is a mystery, and Phil and Fred are trying to figure out why males sometimes hang around only with other males.
One of the best aspects of such a lengthy set of records is that accurate information can be obtained about how long giraffe live in the wild. Males have a shorter life than females; they tend to live for about 16 years, but can live for about 21 or 22 years. Females often live to about 20, but can live to about 27 or 28 years.
Once the findings have been published, we plan to post the papers online so that you can read the their findings in more detail.
Here are links to two papers they have previously published together:
Ecological determinants of herd size in the Thornicroft’s giraffe of Zambia
Reproductive life history of Thornicroft’s giraffe in Zambia