Love is in the air!

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He was tall, dark and handsome – well, most of them are.  But the females in the tower of giraffes we were observing on morning game drive seemed to sense that the approaching stranger was a desirable mating partner.

Getting better acquainted

As the big bull made his way toward them, the two other males in the group instinctively cleared off.  That left a line-up of ladies eager for a closer inspection by the newcomer.  He sniffed the hind quarters of the first female to determine if she was in oestrus. She apparently wasn’t, so he moved on to the next.

He approached bachelorette number two in the same manner, using a facial grimace to pump the hormones she exuded into the Jacobson’s organ on the roof of his mouth. This gland is used to detect the hormones that indicate reproductive status. This time he got the answer he wanted as she was in heat. After a few moments of nuzzling, it was apparent that these two wanted some time alone, so the rest of the group moved on.

The new couple

“Will they mate right away?” I asked Ranger Brendon. “That would be something to see!”. “No” he replied, “He still has a few days to wait. He’ll follow her around like a love sick puppy until she decides that he is persistent and fit enough to mate with her. With a 15 month gestation period, she has to choose wisely.”

We drove off leaving the newly formed couple to get better acquainted.

Words and images by Jacquie Gauthier