Giraffe Social Structure

Giraffe Social Structure

Giraffe Social Behavior

Observing the social structure of the giraffe is quite interesting and something you want to do if you get the opportunity in the wild. The females generally bond every well together so you will see them in small herds with about 10 to 12 members. There will seldom be males in that group unless they are still under the care of their mothers.

However you may come across what seems to be an extremely large herd out there. This is generally a couple of them that are in the same vicinity for feeding. In order to help protect the young the females will help each other out. They will have what are called nursery groups out there for them to stay in. The females take turns watching the offspring and then eating.

The young males that are old enough to care for themselves from what are referred to as bachelor herds. They will play with each other, interacting to try to find out who is the strongest and thus the most dominant in the group. They often engage in battles called necking. They are over within a couple of minutes and no one is seriously injured. However, it is similar to humans having an arm wrestling contest to see who is the stronger party.

Social Structure of Giraffes

Herd of giraffes in african savanna, Namibia

Mature males will leave that herd and generally spend the rest of their lives alone except when it is time for mating to take place. A very strong adult male will have the privileged of mating with an entire herd of giraffes and not just one in it. This is a type of socialization habit that occurs often within a group setting where the male is dominant. However, it is very rare when the male comes in for mating and then leaves again.

For the most part giraffes aren’t territorial. Males will become that way when they want to mate in order to keep other males away from the females they plan to court and then to mate with. They can become more territorial though when there is less food and they have to fight to keep their herds together.

In captivity both males and females are kept in the same areas. However, you will notice that they keep their distance for the most part. While they are tolerant of each other they will keep to their own elements as they would in the wild. It has been noted both in the wild and in captivity that the loose social structure of the giraffe allows it to change and to adapt as it needs to.

When food is scarce it is common for larger herds to break up and to travel on their own. This is due to help ensure that food sources in a given area aren’t completed depleted. That process will result in an area not being able to supply as much food for the giraffes later on.

Giraffe Social Behavior

Family group of Giraffes

It seems that the giraffe has one of the least structured types of socialization of all animals. While they females especially do bond, they don’t seem to form the deep feelings and emotions of some animals that spend many years together, like elephants. They are often considered to be not highly intelligent either because they don’t do much socially and they don’t have complex things about they. Yet their level of intelligence hasn’t been fully evaluated yet and they could surprise us.

Many experts believe that this lack of social structure for the giraffes helps them to adapt and to survive in the wild. They also feel that it makes the transition to captivity one that is less stressful. The sheer independence of these animals is very interesting though and something that needs to be evaluated further as well.