Wonderful Wildlife – Thornicroft Giraffe
One of the most fascinating and iconic species of the African bush is the Giraffe and in the South Luangwa we have the endemic Thornicroft’s Giraffe (Named after Henry Scott Thornicroft, a Government Commissioner in the old Northern Rhodesia). The Giraffe are known for being the world’s tallest animals and it is believed they developed their long necks to out compete other browsing herbivores that they share their environment with. Although the long neck, which has 7 vertebrae just like a human neck, is an incredible adaptation, it does have its draw backs.
Just imagine the type of blood pressure required to send the blood all the way up to the brain. In fact it can be as much as 3 times a humans blood pressure. For that kind of pressure, you need a big heart, Giraffe have the largest heart out of any animal on earth comparative to their own body size. Weighing around 11kg`s (25lbs) and about 60cm (2ft) in length. They also have a very specialized one way valve system in the blood circulatory system, ensuring that the blood flows correctly up to the brain against the force of gravity. The only problem is when the Giraffe bends over to drink water, its head drops below the level of its heart which should cause a massive rush of blood to the brain and could cause the Giraffe to pass out. The Giraffe however has adapted specially for this as well where at the base of the brain, where all the blood capillaries comes together, they form an almost sponge link network which is able to automatically condense and constrict limiting the blood supply to the brain as they bend over to drink water.
These are just some of the interesting facts of one of the favourite animals seen at Kaingo and Mwamba Bushcamp. Come on safari with us and our expert guides can teach you more about this incredible animal!