Giraffes Are Different In The Wild

By Kelsey Dawson

Our first day in Wits Rural, our first experience with rural South Africa, we saw a lot of wildlife—more than we expected, and as we later learned, more than previous groups had seen this early on into the trip. As we pulled into camp, we almost immediately saw a herd of bachelor male impalas. Of course, we were all taken with them, vying to see over the top of each others’ heads to get a better look. At lunch, we saw another herd; one male was watching over a herd of ten or so females. I pulled out my camera with my big lens to get a closer look, and the impressive lens gained the attention of other students. We all passed around binoculars and the large camera and were impressed by the novel antelope species. 

            Upon arriving back to the main campus, the front game drive vehicle spotted a large, dark male giraffe just off the road. Everyone was so excited! We scrambled out of the vehicles, as if we were worried the giant mammal would suddenly disappear. We soon spotted a female close behind him, and our excitement grew. The giraffes did not disappear into the thick brush, but they did quietly and slowly move away from us. Brady pointed out how incredible it was that such a large animal can move so quietly through they bush, something that I had not thought about, but have considered each time I have seen them since. A few of us followed the giraffes from as close as we thought they felt comfortable. After following them past a water hole, all the while taking photographs, we spotted another female, and moved out of her path to allow her to join the others. Eventually, we elected to give the animals some space, and retreated back to the main part of the campus. After that, we saw several more impalas, but interestingly, remarks about them had quickly changed from excitement to something along the lines of “Oh, it is just another impala”, and the group would move on.  

            That same day, we were also fortunate enough to see kudu, warthogs, vervet monkeys, and numerous species of birds. Overall, I think that most would agree that the giraffes were the most exciting wildlife find of the day. Giraffes in the wild are somehow different than the ones that we have seen before in captivity. I probably will never forget that first sighting: our collective excitement and awe. The massive animals are so quite, beautiful, and peaceful. As an animal lover, it is difficult for me to choose one animals as my favorite, but I think that the giraffe is a definite contender. 



Madison Waggoner