Our photo of the week is of a giraffe rescued from river mud. The photographs were taken by guide Wayne. He describes the initial experience as "one of the craziest things to come across is a giraffe neck sticking out of the river!"
Wayne and his guests found the male giraffe stuck in the Bushman's river mud while on an afternoon river cruise from Settlers Drift safari lodge. After taking the guests back to the lodge, Wayne and the Kariega conservation team went to see if the giraffe could be rescued from the river. Fortunately they managed to get the one tonne animal free from the river mud, out of the water and back onto dry land safely.
It was late in the night once the team had finally rescued the giraffe from the river mud. They monitored him and then had to leave him resting overnight. Wayne went back to check up on the giraffe in the early hours of the morning and was delighted to find the great sight of his tracks disappearing into the African plains. Wayne could see where he had stood up and walked away from the river.
Wayne later sent in a message that he had managed to find the giraffe in the morning, still a bit muddy but looking good and healthy. He said, "It was amazing to be able to save the life of such a beautiful animal."
Giraffe Rescue of a Vulnerable Species
Saving this giraffe was not just an act of kindness but an important action to help conserve a vulnerable species. Giraffes are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) which means they are vulnerable to extinction in the near future. In the past five years the population of some of the four giraffe species have been noticeably declining, particularly the northern giraffe species which is found in some of Africa’s more unstable areas. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation reports that there are only 5,600 of the northern giraffe species left.
Fortunately numbers of the southern giraffe species (Giraffa giraffa) are reported to be approximately 54,750. There are two sub-species of the southern giraffe, the South African giraffe which is found at Kariega Game Reserve and the Angolan giraffe, found in Angola and some areas of Botswana. The South African giraffe is successfully breeding at Kariega.
How Did Giraffe Get Stuck in River Mud?
We will never know exactly how this giraffe managed to get stuck in the river mud. It is likely that he went down to drink, lost his footing and slipped into the sludgy river mud. Having a drink is very challenging for a giraffe as they are over four metres (13 feet) tall and their necks are too short to reach the ground. In order to get to the water giraffes have to spread their front legs at awkward angles or kneel.
Giraffes only need to drink once every few days. Most of their water comes from all the plants they eat.
This giraffe was unlucky to slip while drinking, but fortunately our conservation team were able to get him out and safely back to dry land.
Did you have any delightful giraffe sightings on safari when you visited Kariega Game Reserve? Tell us about your experience on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. You are also welcome to leave a message in the comment below.
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