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What Is It?
Towering over the plains of the African continent is the giraffe, the world’s tallest living animal. Giraffes are easy to identify by their extremely long necks, spotted coats, long spindly legs and the horn-like protuberances on their heads, which are called ossicones. The males are the largest of the species and can grow to be over 19 feet in height with a heaviest recorded weight of around 4,250 pounds. Much of it’s towering figure consists of its neck. It offers the ruminant an advantage when it comes to feeding, enabling it to reach leaves that other animals can’t. In battle, competing males swing their necks to deliver powerful blows with their horned skulls, and the impact of the blows can be heard from hundreds of feet away. The giraffe’s fascinating appearance has long served as inspiration for folktales, books, films and artwork, most notably in the paintings of Salvador Dali.
Number 4 David and Sam Menteer
In 2015, Calabasas couple David and Sam Menteer were visiting Africa and staying at the Royal Livingstone Hotel near Victoria Falls, in Zambia. After walking with lions at a rescue reserve, the couple returned to the resort and went for a swim. As they were heading back to their room, they realized they’d forgotten the key at the pool. Sam went back to retrieve it while David took a forested passage which led to the front of the lodge. There he saw a 17-foot male giraffe feeding on the leaves, with three females nearby. As Sam was approaching from the opposite direction, David gestured to her to stop so that they could admire the animal. That’s when the bull made eye contact with the woman. Suddenly, the bull flared its nostrils, kicked Sam and then pinned her down.
Where Is It Located?
Experts currently recognize one giraffe species with nine subspecies scattered throughout the African continent, from Chad in the north to South Africa, in the south and from Niger in the west to Somalia in the east. They live in semi-arid, open woodlands with scattered trees and bushes. There are roughly 90,000 giraffes in the wild and approximately 1,150 in captivity. Giraffes only eat plants and can go without a drink for weeks at a time as they get most of their moisture from vegetation. These social animals don’t have territories and live in groups called towers that have been described as open and ever-changing.
Number 3 Braam Bosse
In April, 2015, the body of 45-year-old tourist Braam Bosse was found at a game reserve in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Bosse was staying at the Thaba Monate Lodge, just north of Johannesburg. He’d gone missing on a Sunday afternoon, after going for a bike ride alone.
When a giraffe swings its muscular neck, it generates an incredible amount of power in a whip-like motion. Sustaining such a strike from a giraffe is comparable to being hit by a wrecking ball or a giant flail and, for a human being, the consequences can be fatal. There are cases of people being hit and thrown several feet in the air.
Number 2 Merike Engelbrecht
In May 2010, a woman was fatally injured by a giraffe while walking her dogs on a game farm in South Africa’s Limpopo province. 25-year-old Merike Engelbrecht was walking with her two German Shorthaired Pointers, when one of the dogs started running towards a giraffe. Afraid that her dog might get injured, Engelbrecht went after it. According to a police spokesman, that’s when the giraffe got startled and became agitated.
Giraffes are generally peaceful animals that don’t typically attack people. There are places in the world, like the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, where tourists can take guided walks alongside these remarkable animals. Yet, it’s worth remembering that they won’t hesitate to attack you if they feel threatened. Aside from only interacting with them in the presence of a trainer, you should avoid making sudden moves.
Number 1 Carlos Carvalho
At the time, 47-year-old Carvalho was filming for the popular ITV series Wild at Heart. According to park officials, Carvalho approached Gerald the Giraffe to get close-ups even though he’d been instructed to keep a safe distance.