A LADY GIRAFFE
A Thorncroft’s giraffe to be precise, also known as the Rhodesian giraffe. Thorncroft’s giraffes occur only in Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley where we’ve enjoyed many safaris and never tired of watching these delicate, beautiful animals. There are approximately 1500 in the wild in the eastern part of Zambia, and there are no known captive populations. Her coat pattern distinguishes her from other subspecies of giraffes.
You can tell she is a lady because her ossicones, or antlers still have their brown fur at the tips. The males lose their fur covering from fighting with each other. It’s a horrible fight to watch. They swing their heads at each other, and with those long necks, the head becomes a heavy weapon that moves very quickly and powerfully to slam their opponents. When fighting, they also spread their legs wide apart and lower their heads to the ground and swing them between their opponent’s legs in a powerful arc. This body slamming causes the opponent’s delicate, thin leg to swing out at an unnaturally sideways and high position and can cripple an opponent.
Fortunately, they usually don’t want to hurt each other seriously, so they fight for a while until they’ve made a point and then move on as though nothing ever happened. Because these giraffes are in such modest numbers, each one is vital to the valley’s balance of nature. The last time I was in Zambia, I saw one with a snare around its hock. The snare was set to catch other game like impalas, but the giraffe stepped into it and caught it. Conservation South Luangwa staff came out to try and help the giraffe. They determined the damage was too severe and that the giraffe would be crippled and vulnerable if it survived so they had to euthanize it on the spot to save it from being attacked by predators.
Africa Hope Fund supporters help Conservation South Luangwa protect these beautiful creatures. I hope the only ones you see are like these two towards the close of the day with the color from the setting sun and I hope you have your own amazing sunset experience at a “sundowner” on one of our safaris. Learn all about our trips at https://www.ercafricatravel.com/upcoming-trips-1
Written by Patricia Cole
An Africa Hope Fund board member for 7 years, Pat is a writer and a conservation activist. After traveling to Zambia, she became dedicated to helping Africa Hope Fund provide education to the next generation of Africans and ensure their future by protecting wildlife. Find Patricia on Facebook and Twitter, or on her websites www.writepatwrite.com and www.patmcole.com.