The best parenting system in the Savannah

SCIENTISTS define a parent as a caregiver of the offspring in their own species, but in the savannah the most common types of parents are mothers.

From the vast grassland of Serengeti to the base of Ngorongoro crater, scientists say regardless of a species or environment the activity of parenting is very tough and complicated.

Zoologists say a male cheetah may take from a milking mother a meal which she has struggled with all her energy to get for her own starving cubs while a greedy lion will eat first before allowing the rest of the pride to eat.

The Savannah of Africa is conquered by lions who fiercely fight each other to defend or take up a pride, this is a move which witness a brutal and unbearable action of killing all existing innocent cubs.

The action may be done to make milking lionesses to come into heat and provide the new pride owner a chance to breed his own family.

At the same time, a male cheetah will take from a milking mother a meal which she has struggled with all her energy to get for her own starving cubs.

On the slopes of mount Kilimanjaro, a male leopard will not take up a pride or kill cubs of a milking mother but just after spending six days of heat for mating to impregnate the female he takes his own way leaving her to take care of the pregnancy and the expected offspring.

Despite of being part of a notorious family which is well known for its unkind behaviour, a male aardwolf is totally different from all these three highly respected feline fathers because he is kind and good hearted father who use his time and energy to take of his family.

Aardwolves lead a monogamous social way of life where a pair rather than a clan, a troop or even a pride stays together in a burrow within a permanent territory with their most resent for offspring.

Different researches indicate all offspring are allowed to depend on their parent income for about a year before they are forced to go out to provide chance of new ones to be borne.

These are shy animals who don’t want to be seen by other animals in the wild or people visiting national park so during mating time they will select a good area within their territory with a conducive environment for the sexual act.

Scientists say many other animals in the savannah, these animals stay away because it’s believed that they don’t want interruption as they seems to be enjoying this very important ritual of creating an offspring.

When a female is in heat she will tell her husband her reproductive situation by depositing a scent fluid everywhere in and around the border of their territory in an interval of 100 metres in a single night.

On the border of his territory and in the special area is isolated for urination, in the same interval a male will answer the call from his wife by depositing 200 times per night his own fluid to attract her for a mating act which is normally held when a lady is in a receptive mood.

When time allows, a male will follow his wife to convince her but he will have to wait for sometimes until she is in a receptive mood when she will stand still and push her 20 centimetre long tail aside.

This action is a signal to allow him in a doggy style sex position to mount her and make some thrusting which last for about 30 minutes before being locked up for other 30 minutes period of ejaculation.

It’s said that some strong male are able copulate with their wives for more than four and half hours. After being impregnated, the female will have to endure a gestation period of 90 to 110 days before giving birth to one to five but most of time its two to three cubs per litre.

During their first six weeks a female will invest most of her time in the den to take care of the cubs while both depending on her husband for protection who may come and take time to stay with the cubs allowing the wife to go out for foraging and provide enough milk to the offspring.

Sometimes superior solitary male finds out a female in heat is staying with a very weak male so he will force his way into the territory and overpower the owner then take his wife to his own territory to copulate with her and bear strong cubs with a superior future.

While one heart some unfaithful female who feel their husband don’t satisfy them sexual or don’t bear strong cubs they may move out from their dens to wonder into strong solitary male’s territories to copulate with him in order that she may bear strong cubs.

Different studies show in both case the abandoned or defeated husband do not accept back his unfaithful wife but if she is insisting on staying he will consequentially abandon the whole family and go out of his den and territory.

This is done in a move to lead a complete new solitary life free from a dishonest wife which is a disaster to the cubs who need his companion and protection against Jackals who are their main enemy.

On the other side, all in her own it’s very difficult to rise up the cubs because normally the husband will spend about 6 hours in a day to take care of the new cubs allowing his wife enough time for foraging and produce enough milk.

Aardwolves are also carnivorous, they feed mostly on termites that they collect from mounds using their long strong tongues which its flat surface is covered with sticky saliva and able to catch about 300,000 of these insects per night.

Aardwolf’s mouth don’t have bow to store rations for their counterparts, their unique food is not made of storage rather than chewing and swallowed direct as they are being collected making it totally impossible to take food to your family at home so at a different time one parent goes out to forage.

Unbelievably Aardwolves have developed test to only two species of poisonous termites with which are available in two different season of the year.

Surprisingly these termites are active in night times forcing their main predator to lead a nocturnal life where one serve his energy on day time and work very hard in the night to get food and other necessity for life.

Living on dead dry grasses and leaves the termites secrete very harmful toxins to deter their predators, without powerful jaws of aardwolf are equipped with strong intestines resistant to poisons as it digests the protein and fat materials slowly to burn almost everything.

Amazingly by using their powerful sense of hearing the aardwolf will trace a mound full of termites then instead of dismantling it like aardvark, the smart hyena with a lot of care will lick up the build up to collect termites who are roaming out and around the heap with its sticky tongue.

Aardwolves are known to mark and memorise mound with big colonies of termites which they will spare them until the time when most of heap are almost empty so they return to their storage to feed but in some season even the good mound may run out of colonies forcing them to look for another source of food.

Meanwhile from time in history, there are songs and stories which tell the rudeness of step mothers remaining as threat to any child growing up in the neighbourhoods regardless of the economic status of the area and its people.

Things are totally different in the middle of Serengeti, Katavi, Ruaha, Selous, Tarangire, Mikumi, Mkomazi and other national park and game reserves where Lioness dwell with their new born.

According to report from Duke University there are 35, 656 Lions in the World and the United Republic of Tanzania is on top of the list with the largest population of about   16,830 individuals moving freely in the Savannah.

It has been possible to increase their number because of lions’ way of life in the wild where they built a strong communal group called Pride whose permanent members are lionesses.

Lionesses do most of their duties together ranging from hunting, defending their family or pride, feeding and taking care of their newbornes.

Normally a group consists of about six to ten lionesses who live with one or two brothers and pride owners whose main duties are breeding and defending the pride against others.

After reaching a maturity stage lionesses become harsh toward each other because of unwanted stored energy within their bodies so they tend to fight as a training procedure for future life full of challenges.

When they approach their first heat period the fight turns to males by beating them or rubbing their bodies against lions to trigger the sexual desire.

Once spotted the male will take his wife into a hidden place located very far out from the pride and make love to her repeatedly for four days after every 25 minutes without hunting or eating.

While on honeymoon the pair may lie or walk next to each other before copulation takes place while a male is stroking his partner on neck, shoulder with his tongue to raise her sexual desire.

Scientists believe that conception takes place on the fourth day of their honeymoon then the pair may go back to the group. Gestation for lioness last for about 120 days as the birthday approaches she will separate herself from the Pride and go into a hidden place where one to six cubs are borne.

When many cubs are borne the lioness will sniff to choose the strong with more chance to live and take them in a special place leaving the weaker to die because of hunger and thirsty.

The hidden place normally is in a cave or between large rocks where enemies like African hunting dogs, hyenas, jackals, eagles and other scavengers and predators including lions.

The mother will visit her fellow member to check if the youngest cubs in pride are more than three months old if the chance is not available she will keep her own cubs away until time allows.

The main reason for this act is all lactating lionesses milk the cubs indiscriminately which causes the young and weak ones to lose their chances of feeding on nutritious early milk important for building strong bones.

Then the mother will lead her cubs to join the pride consisting of other relatives like their sisters, brother s and fathers. This is the most dangerous time of their new life because in the group there might be young lions who are not used to cubs so they may kill them as prey.

Unlike males, young lionesses are taught how to take care cubs on the arrival of these new cubs in the pride while older one goes away for hunting. Normally in a pride lionesses give birth at a different time with two or three in an interval of short period of time allowing the rest of the team to carry on with other duties.

One or two grownup lionesses may stay back to milk all the cubs, defend and assisting the young female in taking care of them. If there is no young female in the pride a sick or weak female will stay back to do the job of nursing the cubs while others go out to fetch food for the whole group.

If there is no sick member and availability of food within the same area is good one lioness may be asked to stay back to take care of the cubs while the rest go out for hunting, it is said that this mother may show a very little favouritism to her own cubs.

If one lioness is sick and can’t hunt will be cared by her sister  and if she dies her cubs will be adapted by other members of the pride without discrimination. While the cubs are in the pride there is a lot of challenges but the most dangerous time is when there is pride takeover where a new lion whom is not their father overthrows the pride owner.

Contact: rstanslaus@yahoo.com

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