Five Animals that Mate for Life | Valentines 2021

It is not often that one sees monogamy amongst animals, but since we are celebrating the month of love, we thought it would be a good idea to focus on some of the animals who actually do mate for life.

With Valentines Day around the corner and with all this love in the air, what better way to focus this special day than on some incredibly special animals. In the wild, there are some animals that are monogamous and some that are polygamous, we are going to be focusing on monogamous animals.

But, what is monogamy?

Monogamy is a relationship in which an individual has only one partner during their lifetime. This means that they mate for life. This is not a very common behaviour within mammals and only a selected few species are known for this behaviour.

Most mammals and generally most animals are polygamous which means one male mates with many females.

Valentines Day is celebrated by expressing love, in all ways possible. The world of wildlife behaviour is incredibly varied, with all manner of sexual practice on display. So with this being said, let’s look at 5 animals that mate for life.

Five animals that mate for life:

1. African Wild Dogs

The African Wild Dog which is also known by the names of Cape Hunting Dog or Painted Dog. Wild dogs live and die for their family. Though the bigger the clan the more efficient the hunt, non-breeding adults sacrifice their own nourishment to ensure that the pups in the group get enough food to eat and grow. Sometimes you find that these elders tend to gradually become malnourished and die younger than their peers in packs with fewer offspring. A monogamous pair of alpha dogs leads each pack, with the whole crew caring for each litter of pups.

Valentines Day with EcoTraining

2. Black-backed Jackal

Black-backed Jackals mate together for life and they thrive on equality and a sense of easy symmetry. Both male and female defend their territory, you will mostly find the males fighting off other males that want to take their mate and the same as the females they fight off any intrusive females.

Did you know that if the partner dies the jackal will dwell in solitude until it has met another mate?

Mating pairs only form at around 3 years old. When patrolling their territory males will expel off other males and females will expel females. Also, both sexes mark their territory with urine. With regards to protecting territory, it is wise to pair up. This means more ground can be covered and together they are stronger.

Mating occurs in May-August and most births between July-October.
Pups will start foraging at 14-weeks and permanent teeth will be fully developed at 6 months and sexual maturity at 11 months but they do not breed until they are paired up and have an established territory. At one year they are fully grown and family groups of up to six have been recorded foraging.

They are most active between dusk and dawn and will shelter at night in holes in the ground. Sounds cosy to us.

These animals are not dependent on water and occur more to the westerly side of South Africa, which makes sense as the western part of our country is a lot more arid and dry.

They are omnivorous but scavengers by nature, where there are no carnivores they will hunt small antelope or hare sized animals. On the coast of the Namib desert, their diets consist mostly of seals.

If you want to learn more about the jackal have a look at our EcoTraining Animal Facts: Jackal video.

Valentines Jackals

3. Common Duiker

The name duiker derives from the Afrikaans word ‘duiker’ which means to dive, which relates to the animal’s habit of ducking away into bushes when danger approaches them.

A duiker is a small, shy antelope, with only the males having short horns. Duikers are browsers, they eat anything from tree leaves, fruits, bushes as well as the roots of the plants. Duikers are mainly active early morning as well as late in the afternoons when it is cooler. Duikers are monogamous breeding pairs, the females are known to produce young at any time of the year, with gestation probably lasting 4-7 months. Both male and females assist with parental responsibilities. The young are weaned for two months and reach adulthood at 6-months, females are sexually matured at 8-9 months.Common Duicker Facts

4. Elephant Shrews

Elephant shrews, also known as the jumping shrews or sengis, are small mammals that eat insects and are native to Africa, they belonging to the family Macroscelididae.

The traditional common English name “elephant shrew” comes from the fact that their long nose resemblance that of an elephant trunk. The elephant shrew eats insects such as ants, termites, beetles, spiders, millipedes, and earthworms.

Elephant Shrews are not like many other small mammals, they feed during daylight. They play a significant role in maintaining natural checks of insect populations. Elephant shrews form monogamous pairs that live in a territory of several hectares, but they are rarely together. They do, however, keep track of each other through scent marking. They chase out any neighbours that may invade their territory, aggressive encounters involve them screaming, snapping and kicking their invader. Watch below this amazing sighting at our Makukeke Camp.

5. Bateleur 

The Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus) is a medium-sized eagle in the family of Accipitridae. Its closest relatives are the snake eagles. Bateleurs are diurnal, foraging over a huge range and hunting over a large territory a day. Bateleurs are hunters and scavengers, they will attack other species for food and will scavenge carrion.

Bateleurs are monogamous, they are long-lived species, slow-maturing, slow-breeding species with only one egg at a time (this is because more parental care can be invested per offspring resulting in greater survival). Nests are stick platforms placed below the canopy of large trees such as a Knob Thorn (Senegalia nigrescens).

Both parents put equal amounts of care into the young and breeding failures occur due to predation or a failure to lay the egg. Incubation lasts for around 55-days, they are considered to have a lifespan of about 27 years. The annual adult survival rate is estimated at 95%, while the annual juvenile survival rate is estimated at 75%.

Valentines day 2021

Bateleur in fight (c) Sean Matthewson

We hope you all have a wonderful Valentines day this coming weekend, where it be in the bush or in the city, there is so much beauty around us, take time to soak it all in.

Drop us a comment if you know any other animals that mate for life.