Imagine being one tallest mammal on the planet and everything you want to eat is on the ground. That’s got to be a head scratcher, not to mention hard on the back.
We’re all used to seeing giraffes pluck their meals off the trees, but near Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp in the middle of the Namibian desert, one must adapt. For the giraffes during my stay, had to eat off the ground, even they looked a little dopey doing it.
Legs akimbo, butt up in the air, it’s not an easy position to master, nor is it particularly graceful. It’s a little dangerous too. Giraffes don’t spring back from this pose like an Olympic gymnast. On the contrary, they resemble an arthritic retiree.
In areas like the Masai Mara in Kenya or Tanzania’s Serengeti where predators are in greater numbers, being caught in this awkward pose could result in becoming lunch.
Near Hoanib however, the main predator, the desert-adapted lions are few in numbers, so while they’re a concern, eating off the ground is less of an issue—especially when a blanket of tasty post-flood flora transforms the countryside into a veritable smorgasbord.
Clement Lawrence, the camp’s general manager and I, walked through the hip-high foliage to watch as two large female giraffes gorged themselves on the beautiful yellow flowers of a low-lying plant known as the devil’s thorn. They moved slowly, enjoying their bounty, no need to rush or move on, it was all there for the taking. I was thankful that the hardship of living in the desert had eased a little, even if they did look a wee bit ridiculous.
If you’d like to read more about my trip to Namibia, click here…