NAIROBI PARK DIARY

A giraffe laugh

A ride through the park evokes childhood rhymes

In Summary

-The long-necked and long-tongued creatures are strange-looking and funny

Giraffe have very long tongues
Giraffe have very long tongues
Image: GARETH JONES

A giraffe fed on trees in the road. I watched as its long, purplish tongue moved over long sharp thorns easily and without appearing to have any sort of pain. Their tongues are actually amazingly long and can be up to 500mm (20 inches).

They need such a long tongue to wrap around leaves when they feed. However, the giraffe seemed to have all the time in the world, just standing still, blocking the road for some time, causing a “jerri jam”. But this type of jam is still much better than the city’s “traffic jam”.

The giraffe continues to amaze me. In their very long neck, there are only seven vertebrae, the same as humans, and they have a unique design in their specialised neck to control their blood pressure.

In areas that giraffe frequent, it is possible to observe the shape of their favourite trees as they prune them into a bell shape, having a wide base and narrow tops. They are rather strange-looking creatures, and I have clear childhood memories of singing silly happy songs, while driving in national parks with my parents. Songs like “Gerry giraffe, he makes us all laugh….” Yes! I think God had a “humour moment” when he created giraffes. They are incredible and funny.

Giraffes are found in quite a few locations in Kenya, mostly national parks and reserves. There are three species: Rothchilds, Reticulated and Maasai. The Maasai giraffe are found in the Nairobi Park. Currently, I believe there could be about 200 or more in the park.

The Swahili name for a giraffe is “twiga”. Is it coincidence, then, that they eat so many twigs?