Monday, December 1, 2014

Topi vs Car

A few days ago Molly an I were returning on our way back from a den session when out of the darkness a Topi charged. We slowed and the Topi reared and head-butted the back of our car. With his horns, he pulled and broke our ladder leading to our roof. No wonder that he decided to charge too; Topis are quite "fearless" and will often charge predators. So in respect to the Topi, this blog has been created.

Topi, Damaliscus lunatus, is an ungulate of Bovinae. Not endangered. 

According to Estes' Behavioral Guide to African Mammals, heir social and reproductive behavior is more variable than that of any other antelope and they assemble every form of dispersal pattern ranging from perennially sedentary to perennially mobile. Both female and male herums defend their grazing territory that ranges from ½-4km^2. Tourists are not the only animals that can’t tell the sexes apart, even other ungulates mistaken females for males. This is beneficial as it makes it easy to defend the territory.

We have witnessed Topis do the darndest things: Ground-horning, mud-slinging, high-stepping, style-trotting, horn-sweeping, mound-standing  (all quality real estate has quality high ground).

As Estes puts it, "Topis and termite mounds go together."

This rather amusing behavior has a very sound significance to the Topi: mounds are used as vantage points in which males can advertise themselves. Males will use mounds to patrol the area often snorting alarms and leading the retreat.

Molly and I have also noticed numerous Topi horns covered in mud. This also has a behavioral significance as a practical display of aggressiveness. Soil-horning and mud-packing combined with vigorous head -haking and mud-slinging is very impressive indeed. No doubt the ladies find it attractive.

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Michigan State University | College of Natural Science