Darwin's Postulates - Africa

The Kalahari: not somewhere you'd want to live to be honest

Competition in Africa

This Semana Santa, I killed my time by sitting down and hearing David Attenborough's voice in Discovery Channel and BBC's Africa. Episode 1 was situated in the mind-boggling Kalahari, probably the driest part of Africa. I was astounded by the raw grit the animals in the ruthless Kalahari possessed. Against all odds, these animals live. My favorite part of that episode, and perhaps most relevant, was the giraffe fight between two males. In a surprisingly violent fight between an older, more experienced giraffe, and a younger male, the older trumped his younger counterpart. The fight was for a small stretch of territory, and the loser would die, banished to the merciless desert. In that way, the strongest of the two, the more deserving of the two, gets to keep his stretch of land, and the female that comes with it. (Skip to 1:40 for the fight, but the whole video explains things really well.)
Africa Giraffe fight

POTENTIAL for Species Increase in Kalahari/Leopard PREDATION

If we consider other species examples, both animals and plants have an incredibly hard time surviving, let alone proliferating. It's hard enough to find drinkable water, and it's difficult to make life about more than surviving when every second counts for these animals. The grueling environment does not leave space for lax living and puts species in a constant state of survival.


One species of leopard in the Kalahari –extremely rare with a dangerously small population size– shows up in the Africa TV series' first episode, and struggles to catch prey. It's a dangerous life they live, because in the kalahari, every kill counts. A meal missed implies less energy for the next one, and these animals live from meal to meal. This difficulty to survive is in itself, already enough of a threat; the low water count with a sparse, seemingly barren land proves to be an environment that does not allow for species increase for these leopards.

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Rhinos and Sexual Reproduction

In this episode of Africa, it is explained that rhinos are usually solitary animals, lest it be prime time for mating. We see rhinos gathering around a water source, being social, looking for potential mates. A female rhino is approached by two possible males, both trying to impress her. At first, she is to mate with one, but the second's showing off impresses her, and she moves on to him. Sadly, when the moment to perform arrived, the male was unable to complete the act. It took the male too long for the female, so she pretended to be asleep to avoid having to mate with what she now considered an inferior male.


This, while not being a direct sexual dysfunction, did not please the female, and would probably hinder the male in the future with possible mates. If the rhino is unable to copulate, he will be unable to pass on his genes. He would prove himself to be weak. Maybe later, the female would find a superior male mate who would introduce more genetic variation into the species.

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Sources

Gunton, M. (Ex. Producer). (2 January 2013). "Kalahari." Africa. BBC