Unique Relationships in the Bush

This Valentines Day some things are going to happen to wow and impress that wonderful, better half of yours, gifts of flowers or chocolates, dinner for two, private getaway and maybe many others. All these ideas are there to impress and show commitment. But...

We are not the only ones doing this in the animal kingdom, this sort of thing happens in many ways some quite special and some unusual, but these unique relationships are in place for a reason, whether to strengthen bonds between partners, show how well you can provide and importantly to allow for reproduction and spreading of strong genetics.

Unique Relationships in Birds:

In birds there will be a scenario where the male will openly attempt to gain the trust of more than one female, for example, a male Southern Masked-Weaver, he will make many nests in a season all in the purpose to get a female to take residence in one and then another and for as many as possible. He will ensure that he out-competes other males in his nest-building capabilities just so that he can ensure that he will be strengthening his genetic line at the expense of another. However, if his nest-building skills are not up to scratch no females will be visiting his doors.

Southern Masked Weavers Nest Building

Then there is another less common practice and that is a female with many males, here an African Jacana female will inspect the nests of more than one male and finding a suitable builder mate and lay her eggs in that nest only to leave him to do all the duties of egg incubation and chick-rearing.

African Jacana Relationships

African Jacana (c) Warwick Tarboton

See more images of these incredible birds here.

Certainly, there is the life bond, and this is particularly in large birds of prey and Albatross’s where the pair are bonded for life and share their duties of either incubation or feeding or providing both, incubating female as well as the growing chick.

These are primarily referencing birds but a few other examples to add some spice to the occasion.

There are other animals that have very unique relationships:

Preying Mantis have a rather grisly gift-giving ceremony, in this case, the male will find a suitable female and once he is initially able to convince her that he is of suitable gene sharing capabilities will proceed to copulate but then the twist comes in, if he is not quick enough, he may well become her first meal post copulation, or he gets to escape and try his luck elsewhere. Should he die during the process he passes on knowing that his genetics will be passed along.

Preying Mantis Facts

Maybe not very charming but it depends on how you look at it. In Armoured Ground Crickets the males can be very fussy in selecting a mate, for good reason though, he will produce a large gelatinous like package referred to as a Spermatophylax, this is a protein and nutrient-rich feast which he will provide the female with on completion of mating. He will leave this with her so that she will be too happily consuming this and so being very preoccupied to find another mate, so he knows that there is a high probability that his genetics will be put there. This is costly to him, as he needs to recover in order to produce more of these treats and so again it goes back to him being very fussy about his mate choice.

armoured ground crickets unique relationship

(c) Ozcol

We all know of Cupid firing his arrow at humans into the heart so they fell madly in love, well this happens in a slightly different way in Snails. As Snails carry both male and female reproductive parts there will be the need to correctly identify the right partner and ensure that your genetics are being spread.

So, the male would then fire a harpoon at a prospective female ensuring that she is now ready to mate and prevents “her” from doing the same to him so that “he” cannot mate and do the gene spreading ‘thing’. This is possibly to prevent the male tendencies of the snail being harpooned from coming through.

There really are some weird and wonderful unique relationships out there in the African Bush. There are so many animals that interact in interesting ways, such a Hyena and Elephant; their social structure is incredibly fascinating.

Have a look at our Hyena Quiz or Elephant Quiz to learn more.

If you have any interesting behaviour or relationship facts, drop us a comment below and let us know.