We see a lot of giraffes here at Marataba, and one thing that never ceases to entertain me is their funny behaviour. It really is endearing and has prompted me to list the top 10 giraffe sightings I enjoy most:
- Seeing a head poking out the top of a tree, with lips pursed in a look of annoyance as if someone has just told a bad joke – for example: What do you call it when two giraffes collide? A giraffe jam.
- Watching giraffes run away in slow motion… All they need is a cool pair of sunglasses and a dramatic explosion happening in the background to complete the scene.
- Watching them use big bushes to scratch their bellies. It reminds me of those uncles at family events jamming to some golden oldies.
- Seeing a tower of giraffes happily drooling, while browsing on trees that produce a lot of tannin. We all have that snack we can’t resist, which we know we shouldn’t eat – and so do giraffes!
- Interesting fact: there is more than one collective noun for a group of giraffes – standing still = a tower of giraffes; walking = a journey of giraffes; and running = a kaleidoscope of giraffes.
- Watching giraffe bulls fighting for dominance by hitting each other with their heads and necks – called ‘necking’. They can muster up a surprising amount of force to winning over the ladies.
- Giraffes have evolved specialised anatomical features to overcome problems that could come from having absurdly long necks. For example, a giraffe has an incredibly powerful heart to pump blood almost 2m (6.5ft) up into its head.
- Speaking of specialised adaptations, giraffes’ tongues can be up to 45cm (18in) in length! This, along with them being very leathery, helps giraffes feed on the leaves of thorny trees, like acacias, without being painfully pricked.
- Seeing giraffes sitting. Interestingly, giraffes do not need to sit to sleep, and only require five to 30 minutes of sleep a day.
- The pleasant, swishy noise that their tails make when they swat away relentless flies.
Words by: Field Guide Annouchka Maraschin
Photos by: Charlotte Arthun