They are among the most easily recognized animals on earth, but you might be surprised to know how little you know about giraffes! To celebrate world giraffe day on June 21, 2014 here are five interesting facts about the world’s tallest mammals and where you can see them on a safari to Africa.
- Baby giraffes weigh 150 pounds and stand 6 feet high at birth. A baby giraffe drops about 5 feet to the earth when it is born, but is up and running a mere 10 hours later.
- Giraffes have distinctive and well-adapted tongues. Their 18-20” blue-black tongues have thickened papillae to protect them from vicious acacia thorns and help them seek out the more nutritious leaves.
- There are nine subspecies of giraffe found across the continent of Africa – each with uniquely patterned coats. These range in numbers from the rare West African giraffe, of whom an estimated 250 live in the wild, to the Masai giraffe, with approximately 40,000 in the wild. An estimated 5,000 reticulated giraffe are in the wild, but this subspecies is one of the more captive giraffes, with an estimated 450 in zoos worldwide.
- Giraffes can live to be 25 years old if they can dodge the threats of predators like lions. The defensive kick of a mature adult is enough to seriously damage even the most hostile predator, but calves are particularly vulnerable to a variety of predators, including hyena, leopard, wild dog and crocodile. However, the greatest threats to giraffes are habitat destruction and illegal hunting.
- Because giraffes can be found across Africa, it’s easier to list places where you might NOT see a giraffe on safari (the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater) than places where you will. But, reliable herd sightings can be had at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe; Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania; Kruger National Park, South Africa; Etosha National Park, Namibia; and the Okavango Delta in Botswana, just to name a few.
Want to build your own Giraffe Safari? Visit www.bushtracks.com and use the Wildlife filter to identify Trips, Destinations or Accommodations where giraffes are among the many amazing African animals you’ll encounter on safari.