The effects of human presence on the social relationships of wild animals have rarely been studied. Even if the animals are not hunted or killed, increasing contact with humans could have profound indirect impacts. This is because proximity to humans could disturb the animals’ ability to perform at tasks that are important for survival — such as feeding together or rearing young.
Researchers from the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Zurich (UZH) have now taken a closer look at this topic by studying Masai giraffes in Tanzania. The study, carried out with researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behaviour, the University of Konstanz and Pennsylvania State University, provides the first robust evidence that human presence affects the social structure in this iconic herbivore. MORE