Have you ever wondered how Africa’s tallest terrestrial animal mates? With gangly legs, an extremely long neck and the most innnocent of eyes, one could be forgiven that ‘the stork’ just drops off a baby giraffe and saves this elegant animal from an otherwise awkward process. Nature, however is sometimes cruel and the giraffe needs to mate just the same as every other mammal on this planet.

The process actually starts in the fur of the giraffe, which is full of parasite repellents and antibiotics. These aromatic chemicals mix and combine with one another to give giraffes, in particular males, a very distinctive aroma that has a suspected sexual function to attract the opposite sex.

A Journey of Giraffe by Rich Laburn

A Journey of Giraffe by Rich Laburn

As with many other species, giraffe’s are polygamous and it is generally the older, larger males who do most of the mating. Using the flehmen response, whereby the sexual receptivity and estrus of the female is tested by tasting the female’s urine, the male will decide whether to mate or not.

A courtship will take place wherein the dominant bull displaces younger males whilst the female walks around to ensure that enough time passes for the most dominant bull to remain. In the final stages the female giraffe, herself, continues to prolong the male until he eventually loses patience and mating will take place a number of brief times over the course of a few hours.

Over the next year a calf will grow inside this female giraffe and in about 13 – 15 months time a new calf will be born. The female will give birth standing up and waits for an embryonic sack to burst which is when the baby falls to the ground and begins its life.

I have only seen a giraffe mating once before and I am interested to hear if any of you have had the fortunate experience of witnessing such a rare spectacle in the African wilderness? Let us know in the comments section below.

Filmed by: Bennet Manthonsi

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

Rich Laburn

Head of Digital

Rich is the driving force behind Londolozi’s online storytelling and the Londolozi blog. His passions of digital media, film and photography, combined with his field-guiding background, have seen him take the Londolozi blog to new heights since he began it in 2009. Rich ...

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on Just how exactly does a Giraffe Mate?

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Never seen giraffe mating but saw one being born, once upon a time – a long, long time ago – in the KNP


That must have been an extraordinary experience in itself to witness. Did you manage to see it standing after it was born? Rich

Penny Parker

Monique, wow that is amazing! If only – must be one fo the most spectacular and rare sightings. Seen a Zebra give birth, but the drop is a lot less daunting than the one a baby giraffe experiences. haha!


I know what you mean, its quite a rude start to life for those little giraffes. Thanks for your comments Penny.


Just ever saw young baby giraffes be born on TV. I’m still puzzeled how many lions can get an adult giraffe down? Maybe over five?


It will depend on the size of the giraffe and the strength of the lions. I would suggest that about three lions would be capable of bringing a giraffe down. All they need to do is trip it up.

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