Giraffe Portrait Card
Size: 297mm x 210mm
Original Painting Medium: Oil on canvas
Scientific Name: Giraffa camelopardalis
There are 9 sub-species of giraffe. A Reticulated giraffe coat consists of large, polygonal liver-coloured spots outlined by a network of bright white lines. A Rothschild's giraffe has deep brown blotches sometimes rectangular-shaped, a Southern giraffe has leafy shaped blotches, and West African giraffes have pale, reddish yellow blotches. The giraffe depicted in my artwork is one of the Southern savannah subspecies of giraffe probably an intermediate between Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis and Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa.
As giraffes can reach a height of 15ft-18ft we rarely have the opportunity to see one face to face. I wanted to portray this chap as he towered above the bushes with his curious watchful expression. Andrew Watts kindly provided photographic reference. My Giraffe painting is an oil painting on canvas.
This giraffe was in the Moremi Game Reserve which occupies part of the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Moremi was the first wildlife sanctuary created by an African tribe, namely the BaTawana, in 1963. As there is little poaching, the game are very relaxed in the presence of people and carry on going about their business while you look on.
Giraffes have an an exceptionally long neck. Although their neck is very long: they only have 7 vertebrae, just like humans! They also have a keen sense of hearing and sight. The giraffe has the advantage of being able to scan the widest area in order to spot hidden predators. Majestic and leisurely in movement, the long legged giraffe lives in the African savannah, south of the Sahara. Giraffes prefer dry open country covered with bush and occasionally will venture into areas lightly wooded with acacia trees.
Preyed upon by lions a giraffe can escape danger by galloping at up to 35 m.p.h. and if threatened can deliver a hefty kick with its forelegs. Males will only kick-out at predators. When sparring with each other they use a technique known as 'necking'. Each giraffe will lower its head and swing it at the opponent's head or body. The blows can be very heavy and heard some distance away. The impact may be so violent as to break or injure the opponents spinal column but once the contestants begin swaying their necks they are unable to take precise aim and it is relatively simple for evasive action to be taken. One of the rivals usually surrenders before any great damage is done.
These graceful creatures have found a niche in which they can live quite contentedly. Using a long flexible prehensile tongue giraffes eat the nutritious leaves at the tops of the trees. With well developed mobile lips they tear off the twigs, fruit and the prickliest shoots without having to compete with other herbivores.