During our Namibia-Botswana-Zimbabwe expedition at the beginning of this year, we found ourselves in Etosha National Park, where wildlife flourishes in every corner as they struggle to survive in this dry land in North Namibia.
Filmed using the Canon 5D Mark IV & Sigma 150-600mm Sport Lens
Upon arriving at this large herd of Giraffe, we found the group of photographers surrounded by multiple families that had congregated the field to feed on the Acacia Thorn. Our presence there was somewhat more than noticed by these gentle but obscure giants. Photographic opportunities were endless allowing each guest capture the shots they desired. As the Giraffes grazed, we noticed the joining of young males. Their head touching, neck rubbing and social activity became more appealing to photograph as they begin practicing necking.
Necking is the only way that male Giraffes sort out their hierarchies with one another, opposed to the head-butting, kicking, biting or jousting seen in many other ungulates. This necking takes place between bachelor herds as larger males sort out their respective social ranking between one another. Once those are established, bulls in a given population can usually avoid actual confrontations over mating rights.
Necking bouts range along a broad spectrum of power. These can be from the large bulls that fight one another that can occasionally end in death, to younger males that can be seen softly bashing their heads on one another as shown in the video above. The soft head bashing shown in the video captured during our expedition was not serious, but gently testing the boundaries of one another. Others have acknowledged this as how young bulls learn to neck by practicing with one another.
When the time comes and large bulls come face to face, bulls brace their legs and bludgeon each other with wide curved bashing with their horns. Like any fight, the opposition will try to avoid a hit. When large males of the same size do not back down to one another, fights can get out of hand where clobbering of the neck and horns can cause major injury to the body. Male Giraffes have been known to be hit so hard that they fall over to the ground, sometimes resulting in death.