The Gracious Giraffe

It might not be a member of the famed African Big 5, but the Giraffe is certainly one of the top mammals to see on safari in Namibia. The country boasts about 12,000 of these animals, with Etosha National Park being the stronghold of their population within the country.

These long-necked, beautifully patterned ungulates possess a few interesting characteristics that make it worthwhile watching them closely when you see one on safari.

• These gentle giants are the world’s tallest living land animals, with adult males reaching up to 18 feet (5 and a half metres) high!

• Males fight for dominance by swinging and hitting each other with their long necks and heads, sometimes leading to injuries and in some cases even death.

• Although they look slow and graceful, they can reach speeds of up to 35 mph (56 kph) over short distances!

• Giraffes’ tongues can be up to 20 inches (51 centimetres) long and very mobile, helping them to reach all the good leaves in amongst the thorns on their favourite tree, the Acacia.

• The Giraffe’s scientific name, Giraffa camelopardalis, comes from the ancient Greeks’ belief that it looked like a camel wearing a leopard’s coat.

• Despite their characteristic long necks, Giraffes actually have the same number of neck vertebrae as humans – 7.

• Giraffes need less sleep than any other mammal, with only 5 to 30 minutes in a 24-hour period being sufficient.

For even more cool facts and information on these wonderful animals check out:

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