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Keywords:

  • giraffe;
  • Giraffa camelopardalis;
  • group structure;
  • mating strategies;
  • Tanzania

Abstract

Movements and group structure of giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis were studied in Lake Manyara National Park, northern Tanzania. The giraffe population in Manyara had increased from 60 to 85 individuals between the early 1980s and 1991. This increase may have been the result of an increase in browse availability as a result of a dramatic decline in elephant numbers, and bush encroachment following a series of anthrax epidemics that killed impala. Giraffe densities in Manyara are high compared to other areas within the Masai ecosystem, and Manyara probably serves as a dry season refuge. Females were found in small, yet unstable groups, while males associated randomly with each other. Neither males nor females were confined to single localities, although home ranges were small compared with studies in areas with low giraffe densities. In one area within the park a more stable group was found, and resident males who were probably defending a temporary harem, engaged in necking contests with immigrant males. A comparison with other studies showed that giraffe density, home-range size, mobility and group stability differ across different habitats. The tendency that more stable groups are found in high density areas might be taken as evidence for the occurrence of resource defence polygyny in such areas.