The Giraffe – The Tallest Animal in the World

The giraffe is surely one of the strangest animals on earth, with its extremely long neck! And you’re bound to see one on a trip to Kruger National Park, with its head up in the trees, eating leaves off the top branches.

If you see a light-coloured tree trunk from a long distance, use binoculars to check it’s not a long neck you’re looking at!

These tall animals cross the road in small herds from time to time too. If you’re close by, it’s fascinating to look up at them and marvel at their height.

Giraffes eatingThese animals are one of the Kruger lions’ most popular meals though. As vulnerable wildlife, they need some natural defences against predators. One of these is to sleep for only very short periods of time, from 10 minutes to 2 hours per day. Another defence mechanism is their vicious kick!

It can be fascinating looking at them at close range or through binoculars. You’ll notice scratches and wounds on their legs, possibly from a close encounter with a lion, or maybe just a scratch from a tree. It’s also common to see oxpecker birds removing ticks from their long necks and ears!

 

Baby giraffeIt’s not the most common sight, but you may be lucky enough to visit a water hole where they are drinking. Because they’re so tall, and despite their long neck, they have to part their front legs to lower themselves enough to reach the water. It looks really funny and they seem very vulnerable doing so!

Quick quiz question: How many neck vertebrae are there in their super-long necks?

Answer: Only seven – the same as you and me!