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.
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