Eye to eye with a giraffe

Eye to eye with a giraffe

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The Reticulated Giraffe is found in northern Kenya so Samburu is an ideal place to watch them. Distant views of them walking across the varied landscape are wonderful – they just fit so well! It is something I look forward to whenever I visit.

They are constantly alert.  Often when you see them in the far distance they are looking directly at the vehicle and we have used their gaze sometimes to locate predators in the distance. It is not unusual to have relatively close encounters but these are usually when the giraffe are crossing the road or are browsing parallel to the vehicle. So when we had one feeding behind an acacia bush next to the vehicle it sent a shiver down my spine.

This one had walked up to the bush that was right next to us. It was the sound of it feeding and blowing air out of its nostrils that alerted us.  Through the windows and side of the vehicle all you could see was the thick bush. Getting a shot was a new challenge. I wanted to see if I could get eye to eye with it.  Fortunately we were already stationary and the engine was turned off.  (Turning the engine off can spook an animal). The key was going to be slow gentle movements and no messing around with camera settings!! Climbing onto the seat and then standing really slowly up through the roof hatch got me to the right height and closer than I had ever been before. (I have close-up shots but achieved  courtesy of a long lens and good cropping!)

As I slowly emerged it stopped feeding and looked at me.  I waited without moving. When it returned to feeding I bought the camera up and waited some more then took a shot.  The camera shutter caused it to look at me again – another quick shot. And then one more wider shot for good measure.

The giraffe was curious but I think it felt safe because of the thick acacia between us.  I moved back down just as slowly and for me the most rewarding thing was that it was sufficiently unconcerned to continue to feed there even as we started the engine and pulled away.

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