Last Tuesday I spotted a picture of a really odd, gazelle-like guy on the Africa Geographic facebook page. Standing on his hind-legs, browsing from the top branches of a bush, he looked a bit like a ballet-dancing buck, as someone quite aptly commented. Turns out he’s a gerenuk Litocranius Walleri. Also turns out that his bizarre stance and lo-o-o-ong neck (‘gerenuk’ doesn’t mean giraffe neck in the Somali language for nothing) are the least of his eccentricities.
It seems that in order to make it in gerenuk land, you need to adopt some pretty weird habits. For starters, it is necessary that you maintain clear pre-orbital scent glands (just below your eyes), as you will be using them to mark your territory as you go about eating. You might want to watch where you walk too, because you don’t want anything impeding the glands on your knees (say what?!) or your split-hooves from emitting your personal scent either.
With regards to the oh-so-important maintenance of your gerenuk population, you (the male you) will need to sidle up to a lady in heat. You then need to give her a little tap on the belly, thus putting them scent-producing, territory-marking knees of yours to good use. From there proceed as other gazelles do.
Fast forward seven months [you are now female]. Having given birth in a secluded spot, all alone, you set to work cleaning up the site. Start by licking your little gerenuk clean. End by eating the after-birth. This is, after all, the only way to prevent passing predators from nosing in on your little bundle of joy.
Having young offspring can be quite tense, and should something baby-related (or anything related really) alarm you, you will make what’s described as a buzzing noise. If, on the other hand, you are annoyed, you will whistle your discontent at the offender.
Right, so armed with this information and assuming you can get yourself over to a dry, thorny-bush- rich part of East Africa, you are now ready to impersonate a gerenuk along with the best of ’em.