What love has got to do in the jungle

FROM the beginning of time to present days, singers, writers, preachers and philosophers each from their point of view have tried to define love but yet there is no one clear definition.

This is because some popular musicians say love is a way of give and take, but others wrote all you need is love while some clever artists composed a song titled love conquers all.

The last quotation indicates that every creature on the Earth needs love because it is understood that feelings of affection function to keep all animals together against all kind of threats also facilitate the continuation of the species.

When two lions form a coalition to oust an incumbent pride owner through a bloody shed encounter, the action is taken as a brutal and gruesome before human eyes.

This is worrisome because sometime the number of adult males in a coalition is usually two but may increase to as many as four targeting a lonely lion which may fight to its death only to protect cubs which were born during his reign in the pride.

In the savannah, a pride of lions consists of related females, offspring and a small number of adult males which work to protect their family as lionesses assume other duties including hunting and taking care of the whole group.

From the high street of bigger street of Dar es salaam, Mwanza and Tanga to narrow paths of villages such as Kamachumu, Mwandiga and Nyamongo, the news of people fighting or killing each other because of love is not a strange thing in our societies.

While in our villages, townships and cities people hate, fight or even kill each other because of love, in the savannah after the pride been taken over by new owners a single lioness may generously share her love with two or more lions when she is in heat.

During this romantic period which last for several days, the couple separates from other and go into a safe place where they copulates twenty to forty times a day sometime without eating.

Some tourists from Europe, America, Arabia and Asia visit Ngorongoro, Serengeti, Tarangire, Mikumi and other national parks where they follow lions wherever they go in the savannah only to witness the big cats in their happiest moment.

African buffaloes also live in the savannah, unlike the biggest cat of Serengeti, Tarangire, Mikumi and other national parks in the grassland the largest bovines live in herd which is made by thirty to ninety individuals.

The core of the herds are made up of related females, and their offspring, in an almost linear dominance hierarchy, these are surrounded by sub herds of subordinate males, high ranking males, females and old or weaker individuals.

During the wet season, the younger bulls rejoin a herd to mate with the females, their arrival automatically triggers instability in the group as each individual tries to make his position to be known to everyone in the community.

In a hostile situation, adult bulls will spar in play, dominance interactions or actual fights as they approach each other while twisting their horns side by side and wait for his opponent to do the same and strike vigorously. Buffaloes mate and give birth only during the rainy seasons, during this period a bull will closely guard a female that comes into heat while forcing other away.

No matter it is in Moyowosi game reserve or Ruaha national park, this is a difficult situation among buffaloes because females are quite elusive and a single cow in heat always attracts many males to the scene. In a situation where the winner takes it all, at this point the most dominant bull will use his size, weight and muscles to force out his subordinates and take control of everything.

On the other hand, as we have seen from the beginning the main objective of love is to facilitate the continuation of the species including the common elands. While weighing between 700 and 900 kilogrammes, elands are the largest antelopes which live in a herd made by 100 to 500 individuals living the savannah while eating shrubs, grasses, seeds and tubers.

Normally in small groups, common elands scatter in the grasslands of savannah where they associate with herds of wildebeests, giraffes, zebras, topis, roan antelopes and oryxes. During rainy season all smaller groups tend to come together to form bigger herd consisting of males which are looking for females in heat.

At this point females will urinate to indicate fertility position especially during the appropriate phase of their estrous cycle, this is also done to indicate their lack of fertility when harassed by a male which is hungry for love. Among common elands, mating may occur anytime after reaching sexual maturity, but is mostly seen in the rainy season.

Most of the time it happens when elands gather to feed on lush green plains with plentiful grass, and some males and females start mating with each other in separate pairs as bulls chase the females to find out if they are in estrus.

They move from one female to another to test their urine but it’s the queen which chooses the most dominant and fit male to mate with as she runs away from other trying to mate with her while on the other side the action cause a commotion in savannah.

It is an upheaval in the grassland as this result in fights between males which through their heavy weight hard horns to each other regardless what may happen there after. The scramble will continue until the victorious bull establish himself and get a chance to follow a female in heat for two to four hours before the queen allows him to mount her.

This will not stop there as king will continue to keep a close contact with the queen in heat while confiscating other estrous females to be with them during the entire period of breeding. Life and love in the savannah cannot be documented without mentioning of African hunting dogs, these are highly social animal, living in packs with separate dominance hierarchies for males and females.

The African wild dog has very strong social bonds, stronger than those of sympatric lions and spotted hyenas, they live in permanent packs consisting of 2 to 27 adults and yearling pups. African wild dog populations in East Africa appear to have no fixed breeding season, during estrus, the female is closely accompanied by a single male, which keeps other members of the same sex at bay.

As we have seen from the beginning, in the savannah love is defined in different way because some lead monogamy life while other are surrounded by several partners but few are solitary and come only during the breeding season.

The African leopard and honey badger are solitary mammals but the spotted big cat is an elusive animal while the notorious small mammal may be seen hunting with his partner during the breeding season. Many things may be talked about these two mammals which come together only during the breeding season.

On the other hand what we see from the African leopard and honey badger has proved that love is patience, kindness, it is not rude but protects, comforts and put hopes while preserving life on the Earth.


Author: Reginald Stanislaus Matillya

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