“Do you know giraffes eat bones?”
I glanced sideways at my companion, prepared to see him try to hide his grin as he tried to shock me into a gullible response. But he wasn’t looking at me at all. He was negotiating the slippery, rain-slicked mud of the track we were following as he steered around puddles which may be disguising submerged hazards.
“They do, you know,” he continued in the absence of any reply.
“Really?” My response was hesitant. I was still not convinced he was serious.
“Yes. They chew on them to release the calcium they contain.”
“That’s interesting. I thought they just ate leaves and stuff.” I showed off my limited knowledge to my much more experienced companions.
“Yes, they do. But they do eat bones too. In fact, I mentioned it to a friend once and we rounded a corner and there was a giraffe doing just that.”
We laughed at the coincidence and I and my fellow passenger turned our attention to the two female giraffes we were approaching, which had sparked the conversation. I was pleased to see they were eating leaves, just as I had thought. My driving companion switched off the engine and we sat in silence as the rain fell around us, marvelling at the paleness of the markings on the animals’ sides, and at the different patterns each had. One had brown patches in squarish shapes; the other had fawn-coloured patterns that looked like bow-tie pasta.
The giraffe were not worried by our presence until the engine was switched on again. Then they looked up, alarmed and searched the surrounding bush for danger. When none was apparent they began their stately walk towards the road, and we followed them at a respectful distance for fifty metres or so.
The front giraffe continued to walk but the smaller one stopped and we watched in awe as she bent her long neck to the ground. What a miracle of creation she was. What imagination designed her! Legs splayed wide, her head dropped lower and lower until she grasped a mouthful of grass. As she raised her head again with a mouthful of long, trailing vegetation, we commented on the rarity of the sight. We had all seen giraffe drinking at some point in our lives, but not grazing grass. As we watched something white fell to the ground, together with some of the grass. The giraffe continued to chew as she turned and followed her companion along the road.
We drove the fifty metres that had separated us and stopped to examine the ground. And there they were.
The site of some earlier kill, and bones scattered around. Our giraffe had picked up some bone! A chunk of it had fallen from her mouth but she continued to chew the rest as she walked away from us.
We looked at one another in amazement.
“Now,” said our driver, “what would you like to see next? Just say and we’ll arrange it.” We laughed together as we drove away.
“Darling, remind me to pay that giraffe later,” he said to his wife, and we chuckled all the way back to the road.
What a moment! A simple sighting at the right place at the right time.
Do you know giraffe eat bones?