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Monthly Archives: September 2014

two giraffes grazing

Or should I say “Tree for two?”  These two giraffes didn’t mind sharing, and grazed contentedly side by side.

Giraffe hidden by bush

This image shows how well a giraffe can be hidden, even in relatively sparse vegetation.  I cropped this shot so that the legs became readily identifiable.  You’re going to have to trust me that from a distance, those same legs look just like slender tree trunks.  Note that they’re a similar thickness to the trees the giraffe is standing next to.

The branches in front of the giraffe’s neck are blurry in this telephoto shot, but ironically the giraffe is even better hidden in “real life.”  You’d think that their bold spot pattern would stand out much more than it does, but it truly acts more to conceal than to reveal.

If the giraffes’ camouflage has a design flaw, it would have to be the tail.  That scraggly tuft of bold, black hair at the end doesn’t blend in unless you’re quite a distance away.  Sometimes the easiest way to spot a giraffe in brush is to look for the tail instead of the head!

Giraffe and a half

Now you see him…and now you don’t!

The ability of animals in Africa to camouflage themselves in their surroundings amazed me throughout my visit.  Big or small, or very, VERY tall, the critters’ coats allowed them to blend in to the grasses, bushes or in this case, the trees among which they were feeding.

As you can see, there really aren’t any leaves hiding the top half of the second giraffe, only a tangle of very thin branches.

And while in this image the lower half of the giraffe shows up quite clearly, from a distance their straight, spindly legs DO look like tree trunks, and the spot patterns of their coats mimic the dappled shade that occurs under trees perfectly.

I’ll post a few more examples over the next several weeks, and you’ll see what I mean…

Giraffe bent neck

Feeling smart?  Answer the following question:

Compared to a human, a giraffe has _________ vertebrae in its neck.

a) fewer

b) the same number of

c) more

If you picked “b,” you are correct.  Humans and giraffes each have seven vertebrae in their necks.  Since giraffe necks can be over six feet long, their neck bones are elongated, which makes it all the more remarkable that they can bend their necks as shown in the image above.

The giraffes’ long, flexible necks aren’t only for feeding on leaves that the shorter grazers can’t reach…they also come in handy when their backs itch or the insects are biting!

Two Giraffes

I recently returned from an epic adventure which took me across the world to Namibia.  It was my first, but hopefully not my last visit to Africa.  I spent almost three weeks there, but I really feel as if I only had a tiny sampling of what that immense and diverse continent has to offer.

One of the coolest things, of course, was seeing the wildlife up close and personal.  For example, my first morning there, I stumbled out of my hut–camera in hand, of course–with the intention of walking to the dining room of the lodge for a cup of coffee.  Said mission was quickly forgotten, however, when I noticed several giraffes feeding in the area.

The giraffes were far more interested in the leaves on the trees than the photographer on the ground, which was good for all of us.  I was able to approach them close enough to get some nice shots without disturbing their breakfast.

Giraffes, as everyone knows, are very tall, but they are also incredibly graceful for their size.  I loved watching them twist their necks around as they searched out the most succulent leaves to nibble on.

Photographing giraffes eating breakfast before I had my own was a fine way to begin the day!