Many passionate Africa enthusiasts do their utmost to sort fact from fiction when it comes to understanding nature. Most people know perfectly well that male lions are quite capable of hunting (and can do so regularly) and that porcupines do not shoot their quills like arrows and will giggle at the idea of elephants falling over drunk on Marula fruits. In this blog, I want to mention two myths that you may find rather interesting and possibly, that you never knew about.
MYTH 1: Impalas can delay the birth of their offspring for several weeks
Truth – Impala ewes have no control over their gestation period. The birth process is triggered by the interconnection between the foetus, the mother and her hormones. The timing of the first rains may have an impact on gestation length slightly as it may affect the mother’s nutrient intake which will directly influence the development of the foetus. But the difference is measured in days (if that) not weeks.
In reality, the timing of birth in impalas, like most other mammals, is controlled by biological and environmental factors. These factors include the presence of food, water, and other resources, as well as the impala’s age, health, and reproductive status. Oestrus cycles, conception, implantation, pregnancy and birth are all complicated processes depending on various factors, and deliberately postponing birth is beyond realms of physiological possibility.
MYTH 2: Giraffes form no lasting bonds over their lifespan
Giraffes’ social structures are way more complex than what we understand. Not quite on the same level as elephants, however, we don’t give them enough credit for their intelligence and complex social dynamics. Giraffe social structure has long been described as a loose social congregation or fission-fusion society, where females of the species will move freely between many different herds and most times never form an intentional herd with their offspring.
However recent studies have revealed a far greater complexity to giraffes’ social/group structures. Many of the matrilineal groups that were researched consisted of generations of grandmothers, mothers and their daughters. These associations and herd groups remained stable for years.
Our understanding of animal behaviour, genetics, and evolution is constantly advancing and staying on top of every discovery is almost impossible. Having some level of wildlife knowledge always helps us understand the intricacies of the different species we get to view. Having said that, sometimes it’s best to just look at things they we see them…
Filed under General Nature Wilderness teachings Wildlife
Just sitting and observing them is a good strategy for myself. Even if it is your 1000th impala sighting. They remain fascinating.
Dan, thanks for sharing your insights on the myths surrounding the animals of Londolozi.
Beautiful photos, Dan, and an interesting article.
Impalas are such beautiful animals. And one can certainly observe the care of mother giraffes towards their young ones.
Myth busters, nice Dan!!
Watching animals is fascinating, no matter how many times you view the different species. It’s always good to have myths debunked that are truly incorrect and use the science to educate us. Your blog and Robyn’s make a good pair for reading.
I’ve been following the studies on elephants (there’s so much observed and put on paper) and giraffe communication, yes the my are very interesting animals that have a complex way to communicate. The pictures are heart-winners! The wonderful impala with their large eyes are among the most graceful creatures. I’ve watched a documentary on a baby impala, the way he escape many dangers and became a handsome young ram. They are interesting animals too
I’ve seen journeys of male giraffes congregating together. Although they seem adult, I assume they not yet true “bull” giraffes. But I always wonder how long those bachelor herds last.
I love the little impala lambs, here by us on the reserve we have seen lots of mothers and their lambs together. The lambs gather together and run and play together, too precious. Thanks for the article and stunning foto’s.
So many myths out there – best to observe and see for one’s self and listen to the rangers and trackers who are full of wisdom