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Giraffes on African Wildlife Safaris

There is much more to see on your wildlife safaris in Africa than the ‘Big 5’. Although these majestic and awe-inspiring creatures have attracted many visitors to the country hoping to spot them, there are many more fascinating creatures to observe on an African safari as well. An animal that is a bit more common is the giraffe. With their long necks and distinctive coloring, they are sure to catch the eye of visitors and there are many interesting facts about giraffes to learn that really add to the experience of seeing them in the wild. Read on for some things you may not have known about giraffes.

Horns

Although it may be difficult to spot from the ground on your African wildlife safaris, a giraffe actually has small horns on top of its head. They are formed from ossified cartilage and are known as ossicones, as they are covered by skin and fur rather than becoming true external horns (as in many species such as deer). The appearance of the horns is often a reliable way to tell the gender of the giraffe, as female giraffes have tufts of hair above their horns. The hair of the male giraffe is often worn away from battle!

‘throat slit’

You’d be forgiven for thinking that giraffes, with such long necks and webbed feet, often avoided getting into fights – but you’d be wrong! Often, observers on African wildlife safaris can see giraffes standing neck to neck (hence the term “necking”) and testing their strength. After this test of strength, the strongest giraffe can strike with a powerful blow – and its own head is the weapon. The longer the neck and the heavier the head, the greater the force with which a giraffe can strike and can occasionally knock its opponent to the ground. Although it sounds violent, fights rarely last more than a few minutes and rarely end in serious harm.

In Art

The giraffe has fascinated observers for centuries. Arab prophets and poets considered the giraffe the “queen of beasts”, for its fragile features and delicate form. Eastern sultans prized them as special pets, and the Roman leader Pompey is said to have kept ten in his theater in Rome. Visitors on African wildlife safaris are eager to spot giraffes, but they also remain the subject of scientific fascination. Recently, NASA has been studying the circulatory system of the giraffe, hoping to replicate the animal’s ability to prevent blood from pooling in its lower body. It is believed to help astronauts returning from space.

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