Inverdoorn is proud of its growing herd of giraffes that gracefully glide through the game reserve. They are truly spectacular creatures, both beautiful in aspect and calm in nature. The herds are nomadic and the temporary association connected with their social structure means that any giraffe is free to join or leave the herd as they please. This is certainly an attitude humans would do well to adopt.
The giraffe is the tallest land mammal in the world and can grow up to six metres, with their necks usually constituting about two metres of that length. The neck is made up of only seven vertebrae, and is a natural adaptation which allows them to feed. The first vertebrae is specialised and allows the head to stretch upwards vertically, enabling them to reaach the tops of trees. The bottom two vertebrae allow the giraffe to bend backwards, therefore it can sleep lying down.
Giraffes are browsing herbivores, eating leaves off trees. They are particularly fond of acacia trees, which makes up 90% of their diet at Inverdoorn. Their powerful tongue (which is 45cm in length) manipulates the acacia thorns to get to the leaves. They do also enjoy chewing on old bones for extra calcium.
Their powerful heart is situated just below the neck and requires a lot of power, because it needs to pump blood all the way up the neck to its head. This is especially astounding considering that the heart is small in relation to its body size – making up only about 1% of its body size.
Like human fingerprints, no two pattens of giraffe skin are the same. On the males, the spots gets darker as they age, while the female’s get lighter.The males are usually taller, bigger and bald, as opposed to the females who have a tuft of hair covering their horns. When fighting the males will sway and whack each other with their necks and are also prone to using their heads.
When calves are born they drop two metres to the ground, without breaking any bones. Their natural predators are lions and hyenas. The hyena has a special technique to hunt giraffe, chasing it and allowing it to tire out.