The beauty of giraffes

It’s hard not to look at these animals without thinking that they stand out from the species known to man. Comments that the appearance of a unicorn is more likely to exist than those of giraffes are not exaggerated. Giraffes are amazing creatures that hide many unusual things.

Joachim Riegel | Unsplash

Let’s start with the basics: giraffes are so tall. It is not surprising they are the tallest mammals on the earth. Humans cannot even have the same height as their legs, whose size is approximately six feet. However, long legs are not the only thing that makes giraffes a great object of interest. It all comes down to that neck that seems unbelievable. So why is it so long?

The first thought that comes to mind is simple: food. The long neck allows giraffes to get food inaccessible to other creatures. This idea has been around since 1809. Its creator, Jean Baptiste, stated that this neck evolved due to a constant struggle for nourishment. And this, for an ordinary person, seems normal and natural: giraffes have long necks to get food. However, this is not the only cause.

Some scientists believe that the cause of the giraffe’s long neck is the sexual aspect. Male counterparts fight with each other to be able to get a partner. Those with longer necks usually win the fight, which in turn causes them to pass on their genes, including that neck. Another idea is connected to body temperature. They help to regulate body temperatures in hot climates. It is happening by increasing the surface area of their bodies, through which internal heat can escape.

Necks themselves are so fascinating, but giraffes are more than that. Several of the characteristics of giraffes can be found among humans. Our fingerprints are unique; not every person has the same. Also, giraffes don’t have the same coat pattern. It is difficult for people to drink the amount of water needed. And while giraffes are trying to drink the right amount of water, they don’t do it often: only once in a few days. Remember this neck? They cannot reach the ground with it, so first, they have to use their legs to splay them or bend on the knees to make it possible to drink water. 

What distinguishes humans from giraffes is the approach to standing. Whenever possible, people sit down. Giraffes, on the other hand, love to stand. So much so that even the delivery of subsequent babies is performed standing up. They can be found in this position even while sleeping. And when they are asleep, it does not take long; just a few minutes all day long is enough for them. They love standing so much that the calves need only half an hour after being born to do it on their own. 

This uniqueness of these fantastic animals causes apparent human influence on their lives. Poachers, who have many reasons to commit this heinous act, are still killing them. Usually, animals are killed, then their parts are sent to countries to be used for jewelry or medicine. Giraffes are mainly killed because of their tails. Their hair is used, among others, in bracelets and sewing. These animals are also killed for the meat and skins and the brain. Some herbalists also believe that giraffe bone marrow can protect people against HIV.

Unfortunately, this causes the number of giraffes to decline drastically. The extinction of this species could have more consequences than is thought. Without them, African habitats could lose a variety of other flora and fauna. Thus, the unusual stature, distinguished size, and behavior that may seem strange make giraffes majestic creatures. But without these strange but unique creatures, the natural world would be different. So, we have to take care of their survival. 

Anna Marek

Sources:

Science Alert: We still don’t know why giraffes have long necks 

Giraffe Conservation: Fascinating giraffe facts

Do Something: 11 facts about giraffes

National Geographic: Giraffe

IAPF: Giraffes

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