Giraffes | Sunday Observer

Giraffes

Giraffes, the ‘gentle giants’ of the sub Saharan dry Savannah in Afirca roam the vast open spaces and woodlands of the area.

They are mammals and have long necks and legs and an unusual patterned skin. Male and female giraffes differ a lot in size, weight and colour. The males generally weigh about 2,500 pounds, while the females weigh about 1,800 pounds. The height of the adult male giraffe is around 17 feet and this equals the height of three adult human beings. Female giraffes have an average height of fourteen feet. The skin of the male giraffe is darker than that of the female.

Their great height and excellent sight help giraffes to spot predators such as lions, hyenas and other enemies. Some scientist believe that animals such as zebras, antelopes and wildebeest stay near giraffes as they can see and sense danger fast.

The giraffe’s tail has a black tuft at the end and it is used to swat flies away.

Giraffes are herbivores (eat only plants) and their favourite food is acacia leaves and twigs. Their long necks and tongues help them to reach leaves and twigs at the top of the tree. These ‘gentle giants’ spend most of their day eating. An adult giraffe eats over 45 kgs (over 100 lbs) of leaves and twigs daily. Though, they are big eaters giraffes don’t need to drink a lot of water. They get their water from the leaves they eat and therefore, need to drink water only every few days.

These long legged and long necked animals have knobs on the top of their heads which are covered by skins. These are called ossicones. The female giraffes have a small, tuft of hair on the top of their ossicones while the males’ ossicones are bald on top.

Giraffes are sociable by nature and live in groups of about 15 called ‘towers’. The tower will have about 15 animals and will be led by a male giraffe. Males (bulls), females (cows) and babies (calves) live and roam in these ‘towers’.

Baby giraffes are quick to get on their feet after their birth.Within half-an-hour of being born they are able to run around with their mothers

Giraffes normally sleep with their heads on their hind quarters and they need very little sleep. Their sleeping time can be as little. Some people think that the giraffe is a cross between a camel and a leopard. This may have something to do with the giraffe’s scientific name camelopardelis.

Believe it or not! A giraffe’s heart is two feet long.

In the wild, giraffes live for about 25 years. In captivity, they live longer and some giraffes have lived for about 40 years.

Male giraffes fight to see who is stronger and and this is called ‘necking’. They use their long necks to hit the opponent and also wrap them around the opponents body. The giraffe who loses balance is the loser and will often go away from the place of the fight. Giraffes are generally not quarrelsome and in ‘necking’ serious injuries are rarely caused.

When disturbed giraffes can snort. When attacked by predators they will roar.

Giraffes walk in an unsual way. They first move both legs on one side of the body and then they move both legs on the other side of the body. But, they run in the same way as other mammals. They can run at a speed of 35 miles per hour (35 kmh) but can do that only in short spurts.

Masai, Giraffa camelopard tippleskirsch, Nubian, Rothschilds’ giraffe, Reticulated, Kordofan, West African and South African are some sub species of giraffes.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists giraffes as vulnerable in their ‘Red List'.

(Sources: National Geographic kids, Giraffe Conservation Foundation , Fun facts for giraafes for kids,Giraffe facts for kids, Cool kid facts, Kiddle Encyclopaedia, Giraffe – San Diego kids)

Comments