Reproductive life history of Thornicroft’s giraffe in Zambia

Author(s)Fred B. Bercovitch and Philip S. M. Berry
Year Published2009
JournalAfrican Journal of Ecology
Page Numbers535–538
Size130.13 KB
Abstract:

Knowledge of the reproductive life history of giraffe in the wild is sparse. Giraffe have two fairly unusual reproductive patterns among large mammals: they can become pregnant while lactating, and calf mortality is extremely high. Longitudinal records are largely absent, so tracking reproductive parameters tends to combine information from captive and field studies. In this study, we examine longitudinal data obtained over a 33-year period in one population of Thornicroft’s giraffe in order to chart their reproductive careers. We found that age at first parturition was 6.4 years, or slightly later than in captivity. Giraffe bred throughout the year, with cows producing offspring on average every 677.7 days. About half of the calves died before one year of age, but death of a calf did not reduce interbirth interval. We conclude that the lifetime reproductive success of giraffe is more dependent on longevity and calf survivorship than on reproductive rate.

Keywords: Giraffe, Interbirth interval, Life history, Reproduction

Authors: Fred B. Bercovitch and Philip S. M. Berry

Journal: African Journal of Ecology


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