Giraffes again surprised biologists

There is a perception that the groups into which animals are going to increase, when there appears a predator, because a large group reduces the risk for the individual animal to be killed and because “more eyes” will be able to keep track of the predator. But a new study at Bristol University became aware that this does not apply to giraffes and what size groups does not depend on the presence of predators.

Says Zoe Muller, one of the study’s authors, “it is surprising and underscores how little we know about the basic principles of the behavior of giraffes”. Scientists have studied how group behaviors of giraffes varied in response to numerous factors, such as the risk of a predator type environment and characteristics of individuals.

Type of environment has some influence on the size of the group, but the main effect is manifested in the behavior of adult females who huddled in small groups, if they had children. This is contrary to popular belief that female giraffes form large groups to take care of the offspring. Actually just the opposite.

The population of giraffes has dropped by 40% over the past 30 years and today they have less than 98 000 in the wild. In the red book this species is designated as “vulnerable”. However, some species may already be on the verge of extinction. Understanding how animals behave in the wild, will facilitate the creation of comfortable conditions for them in captivity.

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