Africa’s tallest story!

Learn all about the magical giraffe

Of all Africa’s iconic wildlife species, the giraffe is perhaps one of the most popular and a firm favourite of our guests here in the Greater Kruger.

There’s something indescribable about giraffes. Perhaps it’s their innate grace and slender looks, or their long eyelashes and even longer tongues, or maybe it’s those magnificent long necks and impossibly long legs, and that striking coat… They really are the supermodels of the bush, and we just love them for it!

Standing up to 5,9m tall, these elegant looking quadrupeds are certainly impressive and one of the most photographed creatures in Africa. They are highly social mammals, with related females and their offspring staying together and bulls often forming bachelor groups.

That long neck is there for a reason, enabling the giraffe to browse on the tops of tall trees that are out of reach for all other animals. Curiously, it has just seven vertebrae in it, the same as in humans and most other mammals, with the difference being that each vertebra is around 30cm long!

Giraffes only have one living relative – the equally odd-looking okapi that’s found in central Africa and the Congo basin. They’re not very gifted when it comes to locomotion and have only two gaits – walking and galloping – and when they walk they swing their front and hind legs on each side together the same way that camels do.

They can gallop fast but are easily tripped – something that lions rely on when chasing them because if they take a tumble, they find it virtually impossible to get back on their feet before the lions close in for the kill.

You can easily tell male and female giraffes apart by looking at their “horns” – which are called ossicones. These are made of a bone-like cartilage that fuses to the skull. In bulls these become thick and develop bald patches at the tips. The cow’s ossicones are thinner and more tufty at the tip.

It’s widely held that giraffe are voiceless, but actually, that’s a myth that researchers have finally busted. Giraffes do have vocal cords but find it impossible to drive enough air over them to make them vibrate and produce distinct sounds. But they can and do hum, which they do mostly at night and at very low frequencies. It’s thought this is how they stay in touch with one another during the night without drawing the attention of predators.

Did you know?

When giraffes are standing and browsing together in a group they are known as a “tower”. When they are on the move the collective noun is a “journey” of giraffe.

See them with us…

You can see giraffe at Nyala Safari Lodge and eKhaya Bush Villa!

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Tel: +27 (0) 61 523 5041


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