“Can you feel the love tonight? The peace the evening brings, the world for once in perfect harmony, with all its living things.” – The Lion King
February is the month of love and humans aren’t the only lovebirds feeling the Valentines’ Day spirit. Although, contrary to what Disney movies would have us believe, love among wildlife is often raw, unapologetic and quite frankly, a little disturbing at times. After all, dating can be a tricky game, so you can’t exactly blame the majority of the animal kingdom for avoiding it entirely and getting straight down to business.
Reproduction goes hand in hand with survival, so it’s no surprise that mating is high up on the list of priorities for animals. However, finding a suitable partner isn’t always so easy and often requires elaborate mating rituals in order to attract and impress the desired mate.
Here are three animals with particularly bizarre mating habits:
Unlike most mammal species, female hyenas wear the pants in the family and are significantly stronger and more aggressive than males. They are so ‘manly’ in fact, that female hyenas have a pseudo-penis, which is used for mating and giving birth. Because of this, it can take months of practise before male hyenas can master the tricky mating technique, and the birthing process is quite dangerous to both the mother and the cubs.
Bonobos are famous for being some of the friskiest members of the animal kingdom. While most animals mate just to reproduce, bonobos use sex as a greeting, for conflict resolution, to strengthen social bonds or dominance, and as a favour in exchange for food. There’s no such thing as monogamy in these groups, and as sex is used as a tool to diffuse tension, bonobos are generally found in peaceful, female dominated groups. It seems safe to say that the motto among these primates is ‘make love, not war!’
Giraffe pregnancies last 15 months so there are a number of factors that go into a female giraffe being ready to mate. When a male giraffe happens upon a female, he performs what is known as the ‘flehmen sequence’ in order to determine whether or not she is in oestrus.
This procedure involves the male giraffe rubbing the female’s rump to induce urination, he then drinks the urine to find out if she’s in heat. If there are multiple males contending for one female, they will fight over her by swinging their long necks at one another in an elaborate attempt to ‘defeat’ each other.
So, if you thought you were bad at flirting, take comfort in knowing that you’ll probably never be as awkward as a male giraffe.
For a chance to see these animals and their bizarre mating rituals, get in touch with us and we’ll help you plan your next safari to Africa: Journeys Discovering Africa