Hiss and snort call types of wild-living giraffes Giraffa camelopardalis: acoustic structure and context

Elena V Volodina, Ilya A Volodin, Elena V Chelysheva, Roland Frey
BMC Research Notes 2018 January 9, 11 (1): 12

OBJECTIVES: Vocalization as part of vigilance behaviour is widespread across animal taxa, including ruminants. Calls of wild-living giraffes have never been recorded and spectrographically investigated. This study reports the acoustic structure of vigilance-related hiss and snort calls of wild-living giraffes Giraffa camelopardalis.

RESULTS: The hiss and snort calls were emitted during five recording sessions produced by nine individual giraffes (8 adults and 1 subadult) in their natural environment in Namibia (3 individuals) and Kenya (6 individuals). These calls attended vigilance behaviour toward humans in hides or in vehicles and cheetahs as natural predators of giraffe young. This study provides spectrographic analyses of 22 hiss and 20 snort calls. The giraffe hisses were broadband vocalizations of an average duration of 0.72 s (from 0.24 to 1.04 s) and a peak frequency of 0.69 kHz. The giraffe snorts were broadband pulsed calls of an average duration of 0.28 s (from 0.13 to 0.55 s), a peak frequency at 0.20 kHz and comprised a prominent low-frequency pulsation of 23.7 pulses/s. The acoustic structure of giraffe hisses is reminiscent of vigilance-related hisses of musk deer Moschus moschiferus. Giraffe snorts differ from snorts of other ruminants by their prominent pulsed pattern.

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