I always ask guests on the start of any of our tours, what is the one animals they would really like to see, and the answer is almost always, Giraffe! For many reasons this beautiful mammal just stirs up the imagination of people, and they get really excited when a is spotted. Whether we’re touring the Tala game reserve on a day tour, or headed to Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve for a multi-day tour, it’s usually the Giraffe that’s up top on everyone’s “tick-list”.
Giraffes are (for obvious reasons) the most recognisable mammals on the continent, their long necks being the “give away”. And most people are thrilled to spot them in the bush, in part because of their look I suppose, but also the fact that they appear so calm and collected as they pose for the paparazzi.
Giraffe are ruminants, which means they enjoy chilling out and chewing the cud; grass and leaves are difficult to digest, so it really needs to be well chewed.
On a blistering hot African day, it’s not unusual to see a “tower” (or a journey) of Giraffe relaxing in the shade of trees having a a good chew.
Giraffe do lie down. On one particular game drive in the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve, we watched some Giraffe for about 40 min lying down.
And contrary to popular belief, Giraffe to lay their heads down (much like the family dog with head curled against the body) and sleep.
Giraffes tend to only sleep for a few minutes at a time which makes sense since getting up and down takes time and effort, not something you want to expend when there’s a chance of featuring as the main course on someone’s menu!
Camel and leopard!?
The Latin name is Giraffa camelopardalis which is a little misleading since Giraffe bear no relation to camels (as the Latin name implies).
The 2nd part of the Latin name, “lopard” resembles the word “Leopard“, and it’s thought to be based on the Giraffes markings which resemble a Leopards if you use your imagination a bit.
The word “Giraffe” though is Arabic in origin, and loosely translates to “fast walker”. Weird that they chose to base the name on the speed the animal walks, and not the long neck!
Male or Female
Working out the sex of a Giraffe from a distance is not too difficult provided you can see some of the Giraffe. The most obvious is of course the penis of the male, which in keeping with many large mammals, is situated kinda mid-belly. So clean belly with no “bump” is a female, with “bump”, a male.
Another way to check is to look at the horns of the Giraffe. The horns (also called ossicles) tend be bit a bit thicker on the males than the females, as well as slightly longer.
The male Giraffes also tend to go bald on top of the horns, a consequence of “necking”; that’s when male Giraffes hit each other with their horns when fighting or just socializing, quite an impressive site to see!
Learn More About Giraffes
We offer both one day tours to local game reserves like Tala Game Reserve, and the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve, as well as multi-day tours to Kruger National Park and many others world class reserves.
For information about out tours, just fill out the form below and we’ll happily do the rest.