Home and away

Before grass spread over the plans, the ancestors of grazing antelopes must have lived in bush country, rather as dik-dik do today. The bushes do not produce many leaves but they are highly nutritious and a single acre can sustain a pair of these tiny antelope. It is no surprise then that dik-diks mate for life and never leave their territory. They know it intimately and have their own trails and hiding places. They mark out their territory in the same way every time with the female starting by urinating on the ground. The buck then smells her, urinates, scratches the ground, and defecates. When the ceremony is over the buck marks a twig with a sticky perfumed wax from a gland just below his eyes. In comparison, impala eat grass and bushes in more open country. Because there is nowhere for them to hide, they find safety in numbers. Unable to live on their own territory, the males and females form separate herds and the bucks battle amongst themselves by clashing horns. The winners leave the bachelor herds and set up their own individual territories. The does visit them one after the other. But this period of mating and fighting off other males is very tiring, so after three months of it the males return to the bachelor herd to recover.

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