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NAIROBI PARK DIARY

Giraffes, strange and elegant

Their mannerisms and way of moving are unique

In Summary

• Their very long neck there are only seven vertebrae, among other fascinating facts

Giraffe lick
Giraffe lick
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 in order to be able to wrap them 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 “Jerrijam”, but this type of jam is still much better than the city “traffic jam”.

The Giraffe continues to amaze me, it is interesting to note that in their very long neck there are only seven vertebrae, the same as humans, and they have a unique design in their specialized neck to control their blood pressure. In area’s 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 in National parks and Reserves, there are three species Rothchilds, Reticulated, and Masai. The masai 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 co-incidence then that they eat so many twigs?

Even though giraffes are seemingly funny and strange-looking, their mannerisms and way of moving remain elegant.

For more information link to the following website www.kws.go.ke