Thursday, March 5, 2009
Friday, 6 March '09: Giraffe news
Raph of Giraffe world, quite recently awarded me the Premio Dardos Award. I have failed to post it as yet - watch that sidebar! In return for this honour, I doing a little post on that most gracious, elegant and serene inhabitant of Africa - the giraffe. Happily I can report that giraffes are doing well here in South Africa where conserved populations are thriving - in the Kruger National Park, the largest national park in South Africa - and on private ranches and game reserves. Last May I even posted my own snap of two giraffes grazing on a golf course in Bloemfontein.
Some giraffical facts: The giraffe is, of course, the tallest animal in the world and it needs a complex blood circulatory system, not fully understood by zoologists, to transmit a blood supply up that incredibly long neck. Long lashed and long tongued, giraffes feed on the leaves of trees not accessible to other herbivores. Giraffes can reach a speed of 55 km but an occupational hazard is broken limbs caused by slipping on wet surfaces. Careful, Raph, in all that snow! Those necks are useful in mating conflicts too. Males use their long powerful necks to strike an opponent's body and males wrestle by twining their necks around each other. The loser is pushed off balance but fights rarely lead to more than that. Otherwise these beautiful animals tranquilly mind their own business and go about life in the African bush with a peaceful air.
An interesting anecdote I read when preparing this blog was about a game ranger in the Kruger National Park who recently observed a female giraffe with a noticeably deformed jaw wandering in a foursome. She was healthy and full grown. In spite of her obvious defect her long tongue functioned well as did her sharp incisors which stripped the leaves and pods from stems.
So who is for a trip to the Kruger National Park to see giraffes and the Big Five: lion, cheetah, rhino, bufffalo and hippo? You can stay with me at Thatchwick en route - and that's a promise!