I’m always fascinated by animal behaviour,especially more so because animals cannot tell us their thoughts,or explain their behaviour;we can only collate their perspectives about life from observing their behaviour.
I visited Samburu last week,and I saw dikdiks.
Those lucky enough to have the opportunity
to visit our national parks in Kenya, especially in areas of Samburu or Tsavo must have seen a very small gazelle, the dikdik.
It is the second smallest gazelle from the suni family.
It is also possible to see them outside the parks,
especially in semi-arid environment.
Being very small and not fast enough, the dikdiks are usually vulnerable to their predators.
The female poses tiny pointed horns that may be
basically useless against predators.
Although males develop slightly tougher horns, they use them more in courtship displays, and
against other males when protecting a territory.
But the horns are basically useless against the super predators.
Against all this odds, dikdiks still thrive and
are not among the endangered species. How
do they do it?
They employ what we call disruptive camouflage.
When danger calls they stand very still against a brush of dry vegetation, which effectively merges with the colour of the gazelle.
They don’t even blink.
Even with very sharp eyes of the eagles, it
would be very difficult to spot a dikdik if it has
already seen the enemy.
Another method the dikdik uses as a way of avoiding being eaten is to limit their numbers per territory.
They do this by chasing their children away from home as soon as they are weaned.
When they keep the numbers per area to minimum two, then there are ample areas to hide and also enough food to eat, so they don’t have to wonder around a large area looking for grazing ground.
In the bush, most times you will find the dikdiks living in twos.
Male and female. If there is a third one, it may well be a juvenile on his way out of home.
When they are feeding, one member of the couple would be watching, while the other one feeds.
They alternate as such and keep their back covered all the time.
In this case then, it is right to say that that dikdiks pair for life.
They are as celibate as the French and stay
true to the adage, “till death do we part”.
In their quest to protect their small territories, they mark the boundaries with a smelly oily secretions from a preorbital gland situated below the eyes.
They also deposit their dung in a communal spot, more like using a common toilet.
But at times, consumed by the male ego to show off to his wife, his will and commitment to protect her, he does it all the way to death.
He may become so preoccupied to watching
out for invading males, that he forgets that trouble may fall from heavens. The sky can fall.
I was driving around in Samburu National Park with clients on ecological study.
We were to be there for three days and each
time we went out for a game drive, the drive out of the lodge was the same.
There was a small thicket near the lodge which had a big acacia umbrella tree growing in the middle.
There was this couple of dikdiks that lived there.
They had made a good heap of dung in a small clearing to mark their territory.
The tree was also in the path of elephants heading to the river.
One day, a herd of elephants decided to use
the tree near the river as a shade.
As usual, they destroyed the bushes around the tree and there was no more ground cover for the dikdiks.
The elephants also dropped their dung all over the place, including on the dung heap of the dikdiks.
Thinking that the elephants were claiming their territory, the male dikdik waited until the elephants left the shade, then carefully dropped a pellet of his dung on top of the huge dropping of the elephant.
He was busy reclaiming his territory and reassuring his wife that however big the elephant dung was, his was on the top and the territory was restored.
He did not notice that he was completely in the open.
The bush cover had been destroyed by the elephants.
The female was well hidden away from the clearing but watching keenly what the male was doing.
Suddenly, the sky came tumbling down on the male dikdik.
A huge martial eagle had spotted the male dikdik from above and came down for lunch.
Sometimes it becomes necessary to change your
mind when situation changes,but who said love is a reasonable state of mind?
The male dikdik was only trying to hold to love that was his,and his alone;for that noble cause,he paid with his life!
Just some random thoughts that came to my mind….©Profarms’ Random Thoughts®