Behaviour briefs: Quick guide to southern and East African animal behaviour, by Chris and Tilde Stuart
Chris and Tilde Stuart's Quick guide to southern and East African animal behaviour deals with individual species or groups of related ones. If you are watching an animal and know the species, consult the contents list, then check the images on the appropriate pages - can you recognise the animal's behaviour? The text explains what the animal is doing, and why. Alternatively, reading through the whole text of Behaviour briefs will enable you to understand general animal behaviour and interpret specific activities next time you see them.
Once you start observing animals, you will see behaviour that may apply only to a particular species but, more commonly, you will see behaviour common to a range of species. This is a great simplification, but a start to understanding general mammal behaviour.
Flehmen response: Male zebras, antelope and lions, among others, curl back the upper lip and raise the head: they are testing the urine of a female for readiness to mate. In a few species, such as sable antelope, females may also exhibit the flehmen response.
Marking: The reasons for leaving scent messages are many. Urine, faeces and secretions can all be used to mark a territory. The animal, or group of animals, is saying: 'This is my beat - keep out'. These markings could also be used to leave messages, helping group members to stay in contact. Or a female may be putting out the 'word' that she is receptive and ready to mate. Facial glands are obvious in some animals: most antelope have them, as do some carnivores and rodents. Watch for strange head positions and movements.
Physical contact: An example of this would be two male antelope locking horns, which could be a straightforward territorial dispute or a conflict over mates. Between males and females, it may mean bonding before mating. It may also serve to comfort and calm.
Horning: Thrashing bushes or rubbing horns and foreheads in mud is usually an expression of territoriality.
Grooming, wallowing and rubbing: These behaviours can be for hygiene or body-care purposes. For example, mudpacks are cooling and help to deter parasites. Mud wallowing is often followed by rubbing on rocks and logs.
Social structure and socialising
The typical elephant unit consists of a leading cow, known as the matriarch, and related females with their young. These females are usually her daughters of different generations. The bonds linking these small family units are very strong. Elephants socialise mainly at waterholes or rivers - good places to observe behaviour (1). At times, you may see large numbers of elephants at a waterhole (especially during the dry season), but, if you watch closely, you will see that these family units maintain their integrity (2). Although elephants can go for several days without water, when it's available they will drink (3) and mud bathe regularly (4). Mud serves to cool and is also an insect repellent and barrier. [...]
This is an excerpt from the guide: Behaviour briefs: Quick guide to southern and East African animal behaviour, by Chris and Tilde Stuart.
Title: Behaviour briefs
Subtitle: Quick guide to southern and East African animal behaviour
Author: Chris Stuart; Tilde Stuart
Genre: Animal behaviour
Publisher: Random House Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2014
ISBN 9781775840190 / ISBN 978-1-77584-019-0
Softcover, 10 x 18 cm, 40 pages, throughout colour photographs
Stuart, Chris und Stuart, Tilde im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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