MAR 31, 2016 7:20 AM PDT

The grief of giraffes


This National Geographic video shows close-up footage of a pride of lionesses in the midst of a hunt. An adult giraffe is a big kill for a pride, one that may hold them over until the rains begin and food becomes less scarce. Giraffes are typically a dangerous prey for lions, because their kicks are so forceful (imagine getting hit in the head or the gut with those legs), though that does not stop the lions from trying. This video brings up an interesting point for thought: do giraffes grieve? Although the answer to this is unclear, it appears as if the herd of giraffes do stick around a while near the carcass of their lost member after it has been killed.

There have been other sightings of giraffes displaying mourning behavior, such as that witnessed by Professor Bercovitch at the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia when a mother spent two hours with her baby calf after it had died. In the African Journal of Ecology, Bercovitch, a researcher for the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, wrote of the female giraffe: "She then licked the calf for several minutes before standing upright, and repeated the entire act a number of times over a period of more than two hours, during which she was alone." Very few sightings of such behavior have been observed, let alone caught on film.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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