As we journeyed deeper into the park we saw fewer and fewer other vehicles. By the time we found the giraffe you’ll see below we were the only humans around. We were slowly approaching and noticed – “Hey – there are some extra legs in this situation here!” The giraffe was in the middle of giving birth. Given this is something you don’t come across every day (not just in San Francisco but even in the wild – our guide had been conducting safari tours for over 10 years and had never seen this) we stopped and decided to see how things transpired.
A period of perhaps 20 minutes passed with the giraffe eating a bit and even sitting down at one point – but she was right back up and began pushing in earnest before long. Since giraffes give birth standing (which is certainly impressive given the Maasai giraffe is the tallest land animal on earth), it was notable to see how far the calf had lowered before the “main drop” (that’s weird, no? probably a better way to word that, but hey – this is mostly about pictures). The second picture below was taken right before the calf fell.
After a few minutes we started to see signs of movement from the newborn. Resembling a cobra weaving back and forth, the new giraffe tried to raise its head up straight. Before long another female giraffe (aunt?) joined to say hello to the new family member and keep an eye out for predators.
Giraffes it seems are overachievers in their development – within an hour of birth a giraffe can stand and walk. So, of course, we stuck around and ate our boxed lunch while the mother continued to clean her offspring. Things as they are in the wild this was no relaxed lunch though – our guide suddenly noticed a lone hyena on the other side of our vehicle about 150 meters away that we began to keep an eye on.
Fortunately the hyena never grabbed his friends or decided to visit and at about 45 minutes after birth many shaky and unsuccessful attempts to rise ultimately led to a fully standing baby giraffe. The skill of walking came even swifter after that as the giraffe figured out how to maneuver itself around to nurse.
Satisfied that we had successfully seen the child through its first hour in the world, we slowly drove off and ultimately met up with the hyena on our path (see more of him in the main Maasai Mara gallery) who seemed way more interested in checking us out than he was the giraffe family.
AF-S Nikkor 200-500 5.6E ED VR
AF-S Nikkor 28-300 3.5-5.6G ED VR