The giraffe with its long neck and long legs is one of Africa’s most unique and graceful animals.

They are spectacular to witness in their natural habitat and Lalibela is grateful of that fact that often guests come into close proximity with these gentle giants on our game drives.

Giraffes are extremely interesting creatures and quite spectacular to witness in their natural habitat. We’ve chosen our favourite bits of information about these unique animals that only make them more interesting.

Here are our five favourite facts about the giraffe:

1. Huge Vertebrae

Despite their extremely long necks, giraffe’s necks only have 7 vertebrae. To give you some perspective, this is the same amount of neck vertebrae we have!

2. Great in a Water Crisis

Giraffe have a plant-based diet, eating water-dense plants and leaves. This means that they can go every couple of days without needing to drink water. This is an advantage, because despite their long necks, they can’t reach the ground to drink without spreading their legs into a stance. This makes them vulnerable to predators and also looks quite uncomfortable (a bit ridiculous!).

3. Built-In Sun Protection

The giraffe’s tongue is black. This is thought to help prevent damage from frequent sun-exposure because they spend most of their day trying to get in their daily 75 pounds / 34 kilograms of food!

4. A Camel in Disguise

The scientific name for giraffe, Giraffa Camelopardalis, derives from ancient Greeks who believes it looked like a camel wearing a leopard’s coat.

5. An Endangered Species

Giraffes are currently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List status –  meaning they’re at high risk of extinction in the wild. Being a conservation project, Lalibela is actively working to ensure these lovely animals are around, we’re all about conserving the essence of South Africa, and giraffe are an integral part of that.

6. Interesting Eating Habits

If you ever see a giraffe chewing or sucking on a bone, don’t worry, they aren’t secret carnivores! Sometimes giraffes don’t get all their required nutrients from their plant-based diet – so they often suck on bones to make up for a lack of calcium and phosphorous.

In search of more reading? Here’s everything you need to know about giraffes and their babies!