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Play or fight? That’s the question…

Mon 17 Dec 2018

At Limpopo-Lipadi we are lucky to have a healthy population of giraffes, which are a regular sight in all seasons. You see them practically every day, while they tower over the bush and move elegantly through the thick mopane forests or on the open plains, looking for their favourite leaves.
This morning we caught up with two young adult male giraffes at one of the waterholes. They seemed to be bumping their bums, alternating this with some sparring by neck wrestling as if to half-heartedly try their skills on a friendly opponent – each trying to hit the other to go slightly off-balance. But it seemed more like playing than battling.
When you see this behaviour with adult bulls, it can look quite a bit more aggressive. When giraffes fight, the bulls swing their heads like medieval maces, making an impressive thumping sound. One animal lands a thundering blow on the body or neck of the opponent with its head. Real fights can go on for more than half an hour, leaving his opponent will a terrible headache at best, broken jaws and neck or even death at worst.
These two young bulls were not out to claim dominance or fighting over a female, but just to engage in some play-fighting and test their strength for their later-in-life encounters.