Photographer's Note

Thornicroft's Giraffe (Giraffa Camelopardalis Thornicrofti)
Height: 480cm;
Weight: 1200kg;
Breeding: No season although many have their young at the end of the rains
Gestation: 15 months
Longevity: 28 Years

This subspecies of giraffe is endemic to the South Luangwa Valley and is one of the main reasons that led to the area becoming one of Zambia’s National Parks in 1904. It is named after the former African District Commissioner, H.S Thornicroft, who sent a sample of its distinctive skin pattern to the British Museum. In the early 1900’s they confirmed that this was indeed a completely unique species.

Standing at around 5 metres tall, giraffes are the world’s tallest animal and the largest of the ruminants. Using their 18 inch prehensile tongue they feed from the trees at a height denied to other herbivores (except the elephants). When giraffes need to get a drink they have to splay their fore legs to let their heads get low enough to reach the water.

Unlike most mammals, giraffes walk using both legs on the same side of the body simultaneously. When they gallop, they move both fore legs and both hind legs together, and because of its long stride it’s faster than it appears, reaching speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.

Giraffes are fortunate to be relatively ignored by predators, except for their young who can occasionally get picked off by lions and spotted hyenas. They spend their lives peacefully feeding on the tallest of vegetation the South Luangwa Valley has to offer, looking in interest at all the attention they cause when a game vehicle arrives.

It doesn’t take too many game drives to learn the difference between the male and female giraffe. Males have darker markings and the tops of their horns will be bald from sparring with other male giraffes.

Giraffes are active during the day and night, but are most likely to be found in the shade during the hottest period of the day. Normally found in large groups of around 25; giraffes can travel considerable distances while roaming their home range.

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Additional Photos by Andrzej Urbaniec (Deepforest) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 449 W: 57 N: 962] (9260)
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