World news – Friends are important: giraffes who team up with others live longer


Click here to log in with


Forgot Password?

Learn more

February 9, 2021

from the University of Zurich

A research team led by Monica Bond, research assistant at the Institute for Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Zurich (UZH), studied giraffes in Tanzania for five years. The biologists examined the relative effects of sociability, the natural environment, and human factors on the survival of the mega herbivore. They have now shown that adult female giraffes who live in larger groups have a higher chance of survival than socially isolated individuals.

googletag.cmd.push (function () {googletag.display (‘div-gpt-ad-1449240174198-2’);});

Giraffe group formations are dynamic and change throughout the day, but adult women have many specific friendships over the long term. « The grouping with more women, known as socializing, correlates with better survival for female giraffes, even if group membership changes frequently, » says Bond. « This aspect of giraffes’ sociability is even more important than attributes of their non-social environment such as vegetation and proximity to human settlements. »

Aside from poaching, the main causes of adult female giraffe mortality are likely disease, stress, or malnutrition, all of which are interrelated stressors. « Social relationships can improve the efficiency of foraging for food and help to cope with intraspecific competition, predators, disease risk and psychosocial stress, » says UZH professor Barbara König, lead author of the study. Female giraffes can seek out and team up with an optimal number of other women to share and receive information about the highest quality food sources. Other benefits of living in larger groups could include lowering stress levels by reducing harassment from men, working together in caring for young people, or simply experiencing physiological benefits from being close to trusted women. The study also finds that women closer to cities had lower survival rates, possibly due to poaching.

The team documented the social behavior of the wild giraffes roaming free using network analysis algorithms similar to those of big data social -Media platforms are similar. According to the results, the giraffes are surprisingly similar in their social habits to humans and other primates, for whom greater social connection offers more opportunities. For example, chimpanzees and gorillas live in communities where connections between many individuals facilitate the flexibility of feeding strategies. « It seems to be beneficial for female giraffes to bond with a greater number of others and develop a sense of community, but without a strong sense of exclusive subgroup affiliation, » adds Monica Bond.

Over the past decade the research team carried out the largest study to date on a giraffe population. The vast study area in the Tarangire region of Tanzania covers more than a thousand square kilometers and includes several social communities, each with around 60 to 90 adult female members. Thus, the study was able to disentangle individuals from community-level influences on survival. The study is also unique in combining social network analysis and modeling vital rates such as survival in a sample of hundreds of people.

Thank you for taking the time to send your valued opinions to the Science X editors.

You can be sure that our editors closely monitor any feedback sent and take appropriate action. Your opinions are important to us.

We do not guarantee individual answers due to the extremely high volume of correspondence.

Your email address will only be used to let the recipient know who sent the email. Neither your address nor the address of the recipient will be used for any other purpose.
The information you entered will appear in your email message and will not be stored in any form by

Receive weekly and / or daily updates in your inbox.
You can unsubscribe at any time and we will never pass your data on to third parties.

This website uses cookies to aid navigation, analyze your use of our services and provide content from third parties.
By using our website, you confirm that you have read and understood our privacy policy
and terms of use.

Related title :
Friends are important: Giraffes, those with other people live longer
Female giraffes who hang out with friends live longer as loners
For female giraffes, friends in high positions bring enormous benefits


Donnez votre avis et abonnez-vous pour plus d’infos

Vidéo du jour: