Sunday, May 8, 2011

South African Giraffe and their Calves


DSC09031 Baby Giraffe
South African Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa)

Some of our fondest memories of our trip to Botswana in the summer of 2009 were the times we encountered the gentle South African Giraffe. I forget who in our Landcruiser spotted the chestnut-brown and buff fur through the trees of the African savanna on first morning at Stanley’s Camp.

DSC07502 Southern Giraffe hiding


Our guide, Poniso, immediately stopped the car and we quietly waited to see if this giraffe will reveal herself. Within a minute of motionless silence, this giraffe cow stepped out of the camouflage of the acacia tree into the open as if to admit defeat in a game of hide and seek.  We were taken by her beauty and couldn’t believe our good fortune as we viewed her through our camera lenses. When our shutters stopped snapping, Poniso whispered to us that she was hiding a calf.  


DSC07511 Southern Giraffe with hidden calf

We all quickly scanned the landscape until we finally saw the rump of a small giraffe hidden behind the large tree trunk on the left, below the light spot where an elephant has stripped the bark bare. Click on the photo to see a hint To see this photo in original size click here.


We now understood why this mother stepped out of hiding so quickly; she placed herself in a vulnerable position to protect a calf. 

*** 

Three days later, at Chief’s Camp, we stumbled upon another giraffe cow and calf. 


DSC09028 Mama and Baby Giraffe


We can’t assume that this is the calf’s mother because chances are good that this cow is watching several calves in a nursery herd while other giraffe cows browse for acacia leaves. The giraffe male does not assist in parental care because would be impossible to defend the vast terrain required to supply the large quantity of food he needs to stay healthy. Without a defined territory, he does not know which calves are his. Thus the female giraffes pool together their resources and form what amounts to a babysitting co-op.

The calf’s tawny brown spots are lighter than an adult’s, giving it an even more endearing appearance. I’m sure you can imagine our muffled squeals of delight when we got a close view of this curious calf.


DSC09031 Baby Giraffe cropped

DSC09038 Giraffe calf


Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who bond together and form a village to raise their young.

DSC07509 Southern Giraffe ox-pecker bird
South African (or Southern) Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa) and Red-billed Oxpeckers (Buphagus erythrorhynchus)
________
Resource:
"Introduction to the Social System of Giraffe (Giraffa Camelopardalis)." Biology @ Davidson. Web. 08 May 2011. <http://www.bio.davidson.edu/people/vecase/Behavior/Spring2004/breedlove/parentalcare.html> .

37 comments:

Patricia said...

That first shot is iconic. I also love the mother/baby shot. Beautiful creatures we have in this world!

jtroth said...

Some lovely photography - Thank you!

Emille said...

Love the shot with both the calf and (one of) the mom(s) in sight, so one can see the differences. They both are so beautiful and unique! Thanks for sharing:)

Kala said...

Fantastic images. I would love to see this in person some day!

Chesney said...

How I would love to see these beautiful and graceful creatures in nature...you did an exquisive job of capturing them! A very Happy Mother's Day to you!

Victoria said...

I so want to go to Africa... and I cannot seem to set aside a block of time to do it! Am trying to organize a Galapagos tour for 2012 and that means 2013 for Africa... maybe!

Your images are marvelous... what luck to see them so close!

Ruth said...

They are very beautiful photographs, Dutchbaby. And I love your descriptions. I had never noticed before how curvaceous giraffes are, so gorgeous, and so strange. When I contemplate how much work it is, and how much food has to be gathered and eaten by these vegetarians, it astonishes me.

Forest Dream Weaver said...

The young giraffes are absolutely fascinating and your images as always are beautiful......love the small bird!

Lovely light!

Reader Wil said...

You have shown us a gorgeous series of photos, which is at the same time a great tribute to mothers on Mother's Day! Thanks for your visit and comment. So you thought of the Titanic" seeing the photo. Yea, it looks a bit like a ship, only Titanic was not half as safe as this Greek monastry.

dona said...

I love giraffes, they are so sweet-eyed! They embody the perfect mother very well.

lisa said...

These are absolutely wonderful. I especially love the 6th one! I think he liked having his picture taken! How exciting it must have been to have seen this. What a wonderful trip!

London Caller said...

The baby giraffes are so adorable!!
I would like to do a safari in Africa too.
It'd be a dream holiday for me!

Ginnie said...

Ohhhh, how utterly charming, DB. What is it about baby-anything! So adorable. I love that "it takes a village" here in the wild, as it really does everywhere else. This is delightful...mother and child. Thanks for sharing this on Mother's Day!

Ginnie said...

Blogger ate all my comments yesterday, DB. I hate it. But this is such an adorable post. What is it about babies of any species! So precious. What a treat for you to see these giraffes up close and personal like this.

Susan said...

Amazing! I can just imagine the holding of breath by everyone on board. As beautiful as the portrait is, I know it doesn't come close to the real thing. Wonderful shots, Dutchbaby.

rochambeau said...

That beautiful shot!! 5th down!! It makes me want to make sculp that baby giraffe!!
Must come back to read your entire post a bit later!

xox
Constance

Margaret said...

Yes, truly heart rendering, this post. Your words and your photos I just LOVED. I'm off to look at "Living with Elephants".

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Patricia,
Thank you! Yes, we have beautiful creatures, even if they have an improbable design.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear jroth,
Thank you for your visit and your kind words!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Emille,
It was nice to see the calf and the full-grown cow side by side to show the color and size differences. Thanks for your visit.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Kala,
I hope you do have a chance to see this in person. So very different than seeing them in captivity.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Chesney,
Thank you for the compliment and I dearly hope you have a chance to go on a safari one day. Perhaps you can go with Kala and Victoria and others who comment on my Africa posts :-D

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Victoria,
Yes, yes, yes, do both Galapagos and Africa. You will not be disappointed. I have a hard time deciding which vacation in preferred. Both spectacular. E-mail me if you need any info.

Margaret said...

My son loved the birds on the giraffe's head! We are off to see the elephants...

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Ruth,
I am still in awe of all the beautiful animals we encountered in the wild. In addition to the vast quantities of vegetation it takes to sustain the giraffe, it is most impressive how they can tease off the tender acacia leaves with their leathery tongues while leaving long vicious thorns on the branches. The dexterity this must take is mind-boggling.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Forest Dream Weaver,
Thank you, we were lucky with the light on these images. Most of these images were early in the morning and Poniso was talented about situating our vehicle where our cameras got the best vantage point.

Ola said...

wonderful! Lucky you!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Reader Wil,
Thank you; I'm glad you enjoyed the photos.

You're right; my choice of the Titanic was unfortunate. I was only referring to the iconic shape of the prow.

Dutchbaby said...

Cara dona,
Yes, they are so sweet, gentle, and graceful.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Ginnie,
Well will you look at that! Blogger reinstated all the comments it ate. Ginnie, you win the prize for being the most diligent blogger of all time, the way you went back and re-entered your comments. Thank you very much!

I too loved learning about the giraffe's "it takes a village" approach.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear lisa,
Yes, I think that calf was a little ham.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear London Caller,
I'm surprised you have not been on an African Safari yet, with all the travel you've already done in your life. I highly recommend it; it is like no other place on earth. Welcome to Dutchbaby!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Susan,
You're right, we did all hold our breath. Giraffe are so quiet, you dare not disturb them.

The real thing, yes. I sigh whenever I think of this trip.

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Constance at rochambeau,
The calf in that shot does look very mold-able. Will you make one for your circus?

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Margaret and son,
Thank you for coming back to see these babies. I love those Red-billed Oxpeckers too!

Dutchbaby said...

Dear Ola,
Thank you and welcome to Dutchbaby! Yes, I am indeed very lucky.

Relyn said...

Have I told you that a giraffe is my favorite animal? It is. It really is. An elephant is a close second, I admit, but I adore a giraffe.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...