For many people feeling like their bond is extraordinary, the 14th of February is a special day to celebrate their bond. Down here in the East African wild, some animals celebrate Valentine’s day every chance they get. We look at some wild animals you may encounter on your safari trip that celebrate wild Valentine in the most interesting way. From the jungle’s ferocious kings to the insignificant savannah birds, an animal is celebrating a union of souls somewhere in the animal kingdom. Let’s dig right in.
On the African savannah, the African lion stands out as a tough-love patriarch and family beast. With a robust build second in size only to the tiger and a roar that can be heard from five miles away, the African Lion’s impressive fringe of long hair encircling its head is an undeniable love magnet for lionesses.
A single male with an imposing mane can hold a considerable pride size consisting of up to twelve closely related females who do most of the hunting and submit to the king’s whims. The females will keep the love candle burning, submitting to the lazy king’s sexual demands, and will only step away for up to six weeks to give birth and nature their newly born cubs. The kind does not tolerate anyone disintegrating his lionesses or snatching away his love-cats but will occasionally allow his brothers to stick around and help in the security and hunting excursions.
The African lion truly represents the ancient African polygamy practices. Throughout African history, the lion is admired as a symbol of family, courage, and strength—a true representative of love in the African wilderness.
See this king of love beasts on most Africa safari drives on the savannah plains.
Another polygamous animal in the African jungle that regularly celebrates wild Valentine interestingly is our close cousins in the mountain rainforests of east and central Africa, the Mountain Gorillas.
Mountain gorillas live in patriarch families headed by a 6 ft tall, 485 lbs (220 kilos), no-nonsense male silverback that no other male would dare touch his females under his watch. Those who challenge this alpha male are apt to be cowed by impressive shows of physical power. He may stand upright, throw things, make aggressive charges, and pound his massive chest while barking out powerful hoots or unleashing a frightening roar.
There may be other males in the group, but the dominant silverback retains all rights to females. The ladies pursue him, and he shows off his nonchalant interest.
When females are in heat (1 or 2 days a month), before they start having romantic partners, they move from their born troop and start searching for a “silverback” male from another group. With their body movements, the female will initiate the wild valentine romance leisurely by approaching the “silverback” with uninterrupted eye contact while puckering her lips and assessing the silverback’s response to take the next step. If he does not react to her advances, she gets closer and touches him romantically. If this still does not work, she stamps the ground in a final attempt to draw his attention. When all is well, he emits silent groans, touches her gently to show approval, and then lets her lay down (sometimes facing him), and they get it on.
It’s by slim chance that you’ll witness habituated gorillas in a valentines dance. Besides, we don’t wanna intrude! However, mountain gorillas are some of the most exciting animals to spend time with on safari in Africa. You can see mountain gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park or Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park for a gorilla permit price of USD 700 or USD 1,500, respectively.
African wild dogs live in packs averaging from seven to 15 members and sometimes up to 40. Within the pack, these canines have a unique social structure. They cooperate in taking care of the wounded and sick members. There is a general lack of aggression exhibited between the pack members, and there is little intimidation among the social hierarchy.
Every hunting pack has a dominant pair. These long-legged social canids made our African Wild Valentine list because the dominant pair is usually the only pair in the pack that remains monogamous for life with exclusive breeding rights. Although a beta couple sometimes is allowed to breed and produce pups, they’re either killed or adopted by the alpha pair. The entire pack is involved in the puppies’ welfare, and male hunters show their wilderness love by returning to the den after a hunt to regurgitate food for the nursing females and pups.
It may seem as though monogamy is a risk factor in a species that is critically endangered. But it also gives canines’ young a better chance of survival if both parents are involved in raising them. You can see these canines in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro, and Selous, Okavango (Botswana), Mana Pools (Zimbabwe), Kruger (South Africa), and Laikipia Plateau (Kenya).
The Elephant is the queen of wild valentine romance on the African savannah. When on heat, a female invites males by calling with trumpets and infrasound rumbles that travel for miles through the ground. All males of breeding age respond to the call. The female will often induce mating by backing into a male, especially if she is young. She may have copulations with multiple males, especially if she is young and inexperienced, and her first suiter will not object to that. Older cows are more romantic with a single partner during their mating season or over years if the male can prove himself.
The male elephants roam free on the mating plains, and they’re not tied down to a single mate like the female. Often this valentine dance occurs in older cows and mature bulls. If the female is interested in the suiter, she will then leave the family group, walking with her head high and turning side-to-side to watch the male as he follows from behind. The bull may chase the female if she retreats and will chase off any other suiters. He then probes the cow’s genitals with his trunk and touches patches of urine, looking for chemical cues to her state of fertility and arousal.
When the bull has finished mating, they’ll hang their trunk over her back and generally shadow her from other mates. It’s a wild valentine for the two when they rub heads and twine trunks, like some form of elephant kissing. What a lovely wild valentine couple!
You can’t miss seeing these valentine love animals on any of your African safari drives, and they are the largest land mammals on the African savannah.
Jackson’s Widowbirds, which live in Kenya and Tanzania, put on the most impressive wild valentine show when proving their worth with a good old-fashioned jumping competition. Both the male and female are a dull brown color, except during valentine’s season. That’s when the male grows a glossy coat of black feathers and a ridiculously long tail.
In addition to pimping up their appearance, the rest of the Jackson’s widowbirds’ mating ritual is quite elaborate. A male widowbird will create a tiny stage for his dancing performance by clipping down the tall grass to form a three-foot-wide circle and defend the territory from other males. He’ll leave a small patch of grass in the center of the circle as a platform where he will proceed to hop up repeatedly to show off the length of his tail while singing a soft call to lure females.
The winner of this wild Valentine endurance test can expect attention from mottled brown females watching nearby.
How are you celebrating your Valentine’s day this year or next year? Will you be joining the never-ending drama in the animal kingdom, or a flower and glass of wine for your partner will do for this year? We understand that the Coronavirus situation may not make it possible to come to celebrate wild Valentine’s with us down here in East Africa. Still, you can start planning your romantic safari a year ahead. That way, you get to cover every single detail of your journey in time.
Nkuringo Safaris experts will help you customize a private romantic safari with every little detail fitting your style and travel calendar. We organize mid-range to luxury private safaris in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +256 774 805580 (Uganda) +44 (0)1932 260618 (UK), +39 335 8134044 (Europe)