Animals adapt various strategies to survive in the wild, and no place showcases the adaptations of wildlife better than in the spectacular wilderness areas of Africa.
By Leigh Kemp
What is the aim of survival? This question was asked by a guest after I had explained survival techniques of some animals. Is it not to ensure the survival of the species?
I cannot remember how I answered it at the time, but it does give food for thought, and depending on your belief system or philosophical outlook, it does leave a wide field for discussion. I will not go into this discussion here but rather talk about the strategies that species use to survive in the wilderness.
Perfect Survival Strategies
No strategy is perfect, but what strategies do is limit the damage. If prey survival strategies were perfect then predators would not find any food, and would have died out a long time ago. They would have resorted to feeding on plants, but if the plants developed the perfect survival strategies then there would be no herbivores and the world would be ruled by plants. It does sound far-fetched, but is necessary to explain away perfect survival techniques.
Many species have survived natural 'disasters', such as the Ice Age and major Earth shifts, that have sent other species into extinction. A perfect survival technique would be one that allows the species to survive a nuclear holocaust and it is believed that Termites and Cockroaches are the only species that have a chance of surviving such a cataclysm.
Why does a zebra have stripes?
There are many theories as to why animals behave the way they do, and much of the theorizing has been done with a view to romanticizing the concept of the wilderness and animal behaviour. The age-old question of why a Zebra has stripes has many theories. Camouflage must be ruled out as there is no more unsuited colour and patterning as the Zebra's to its habitat. Black and white stripes stand out on the open plains.
It is sometimes better to merely appreciate the wildlife of Africa than to get too deep into philosophizing about the patterns and colours as there are too many theories out there.