October 2023

Just when you think you have seen it all…

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Just when you think you have seen it all…

In the afternoon, during our game drive, we headed south along the southern end of the airstrip to follow up on a male leopard sighting reported earlier in the day. As we passed by Jim's Dam we spotted a lone female giraffe in the open clearing. She was in the midst of gracefully bending down to the ground. It piqued my curiosity, and I couldn't help but wonder what she was munching on.

Our pursuit of the elusive leopard came to a temporary halt as we parked to observe this unusual behaviour. I speculated that she might be trying to pick up an old bone, a common giraffe behaviour used to extract calcium and phosphorus from the remains of dead animals. But to my surprise, this was not the case.

I turned to Peter, our seasoned tracker, and inquired, "Do you think she's grazing on grass?" His response was a confirming nod, and I couldn't believe my eyes. Everything I’ve ever read or seen indicates that giraffes are browsers that feed on the leaves, flowers, fruits and shoots of woody plants.

Driven by sheer fascination, I decided to step out of the vehicle and cautiously approach the giraffe. What I discovered left me in awe; she was indeed nibbling on grass. It was my first time witnessing a giraffe grazing, and even today, it's a memory that's hard to believe.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson. Not everything can be found in books or learned from human knowledge. Sometimes, we need to turn to the animals and observe their unique behaviours, as they often hold secrets and wisdom that can't be found elsewhere. They do things in their own time and in their own way, reminding us of the beauty and complexity of the natural world.

Coleman Mnisi
By Coleman Mnisi
Field Guide