Wildlife TV

Learn interesting and funny plant and animal facts with videos and photos

How do baby Giraffes survive?

on July 25, 2013

Baby animals; who doesn’t love them? They are small, cute and occasionally fluffy. They don’t seem to know what to do in this world yet but some of them are already quite deadly. Remember the spotted hyenas?

Throughout this “Baby animals: How do they survive?” theme I’ve covered large herbivores, peaceful ungulates, deadly carnivores and graceful bird species, all of which I hope you have enjoyed so far. Today I bring you one of the must see species on an African wildlife safari: the tallest land animal in world, the majestic giraffe.

So how do these big animals survive when they are born? As recent arrivals on this planet they are vulnerable, easy to prey on and without any particularly good defence mechanisms so keep on reading to find out their survival strategies.

 

Giraffe calves

Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) are known for their long necks, blue tongue, horn-like structures (the ossicones) and elegance while walking. They are extremely interesting and beautiful animals with many curious behaviours that we can discuss but today we’ll focus on how their newborns survive in the wild.

In order to do that one must first understand giraffes’ social structure. These tall animals form what we call temporary associations where both males and females happen to get together for short or long periods of time without forming long-lasting bonds while moving and/or travelling in the same general direction. These temporary social groups are usually maintained by the bonds formed between young calves. For the parent, it is safer to keep her young surrounded by other experienced females and other young calves (if there is more than one vulnerable prey animal around there is less chances it will be her own right?).

 

Herd of adult and young giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) eating in the South African savannah.

Herd of giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) temporarily eating together.
Photo Credit

 

Like all newborns, young giraffes are very susceptible to be preyed upon by predators. When they are born they first endure a fall from a height of 2 meters as the mother gives birth to them while standing up. Their umbilical cord actually works almost like as bungee cord and provides them with a slightly softer landing on this first encounter with the ground. Young giraffes are born taller (1.8 meters) than the average human but because they are far from being bulky like most big herbivores they are “easy” prey for lions, leopards, wild dogs and spotted hyenas, and the majority of them will never reach adulthood. Despite this fact, they are not considered an endangered species, actually quite far from that as they are categorised as “least concern” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. So what’s the secret of the lucky ones?

Baby giraffes don’t have any defence mechanism of their own and like many newborn mammals they depend almost entirely on the protection of the adults around.

Check out the video of a mother giraffe trying to save the young from a pride of lions.

 

 

Unfortunately like most giraffe calves this one didn’t survive, however you can see exactly how adults defend their young. They use their big size and long legs with powerful hooves to try to inflict a mighty blow to their opponent in the hopes of injuring or scaring them enough to send them away. A well placed kick from an adult giraffe can kill a lion instantly.

So when you are a baby giraffe it all comes down to luck. Will you be around other adult giraffes when the lions approach or will you be alone with your mother? Adult giraffes, especially females, will defend youngsters against predator attack, whether they are their own offspring or not so if you’re lucky and are in a bigger group at the time you have good chances of survival, if not, you would probably end up like the baby giraffe in the video.

But don’t get sad. Let’s look at the following cute picture of a baby giraffe with the mother and just pretend they all live happily ever after. If babies reach adulthood they are set for life as most predators won’t risk hunting them.

 

Baby giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) hides beBaby giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) hides behind mom in the South African savannah.hind mom.

Baby giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) hides behind mum.
Photo Credit

 

I hope you liked learning about the amazing world of baby giraffes.
Do you want to find out how baby nile crocodiles and other animals survive?
Check out our “Series” page for the list of “Baby Animals: How do they survive?

 

Até à próxima!
~Sofia.

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