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Sparring Reticulated Giraffe

Sparring Reticulated Giraffe
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2002-12-28
Categories: Mammals
Camera: Canon EOS 1vHS, Canon 24-70 mm f 2,8 L-USM
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-04-22 9:38
Viewed: 8414
Points: 36
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I watched these Reticulated giraffe sparring for about half an hour and shot about three rolls of film. This is a scanned slide - it has not been cropped and only prepared for uploading. The light was hard and white – it was impossible to get round behind them. Yes, I was this close; they were not interested in me though!

The Reticulated Giraffe are found in northeast Kenya and is interspersed in central and southern Africa. This Giraffe species is found in the arid zones and drier regions of northern and southern Savannah, wherever trees grow. They are also found in semiarid plains, savannas, and woodland areas.

Males: Height: up to 18 ft; Weight: up to 4250 lbs (with an average weight of 2500 lbs)
Females: Height: up to 15 ft; Weight: up to 2600 lbs (with an average weight of about 1600 lbs)

The giraffe has only 7 vertebrae in their long neck, which happens to be the same as humans. Each adult giraffe vertebrae are approximately 11 inches long. Special valves in the neck arteries help control the blood flow and heart pressure when the animal raises and lowers its head. The blood control prevents the animal from passing out by maintaining a somewhat constant amount of blood to the brain. The prehensile lips and long, flexible tongue helps the giraffe to obtain food by plucking the leaves off of thorny branches. As a ruminant, the giraffe may swallow a great deal of leaves to store in one of 3 stomach compartments, to be regurgitated and chewed for later digestion. This allows the giraffe to watch for danger while chewing its cud. They have acute peripheral vision. Their sense of smell and hearing are excellent as well. Their height provides an increased range of vision.



Males spar or fight – females do not.

First the challenger makes nonchalant approach, stands facing opponent in erect posture. Probable winner of a sparring contest can be foretold if one stands more erect or is taller than the other. If opponent responds in kind, they have a confrontation. They then move stiff legged into parallel position, or march in step with necks horizontal, looking straight ahead. They then rub heads and necks and twine necks or lean against one another, ears flapping (low intensity), with pauses while gazing into distance. Assessing their opponent's weight. The contestants then start to aim blows at rump, flanks, or neck either from head to head or head to tail position, dampening the impact by leaning away. Skilful rocking with blows avoids damage. The rare hard blow that lands solidly, can down an opponent. They can also; stand broadside to each other in an erect posture and make angle horn threats from a broadside stance. Aiming horns at adversary is intentional movement or threat to strike a blow.

Necipp, angybone, Finland_in_Eton, Adanac, fartash, ramthakur, satish_h, MommaMiaX3, stevkds, karthek, deblink has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To ingridshaul: ThanksJamesp 1 01-02 13:18
Animal Behaviouringridshaul 1 12-28 06:47
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Critiques [Translate]

Hello James excellent capture nice viewpoint very tough exposure subject in sky and land, handled well. Good central composition nice DOF super sharp detail. TFS rgds Necip.

  • Great 
  • Nilson Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 488 W: 0 N: 566] (4423)
  • [2007-04-22 10:14]

Muito belo e encantador retrato é emocionante estar perto destes animais para fotografar e fazer tão bem feito quanto estes meus parabéns.

Great photo - - - the composition is not only pleasing to the eye, but it's very eye-catching.
Great sharpness/clarity and good colors.

Great shot ! Wonderful POV, the composition is beautiful, the colors and detail are marvelous. DOF is excellent, I like the OOF foreground at the bottom, it ads a three dimensional feel, and an air of intimacy.

TFS, Mish

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-04-22 10:49]

Hello James

Looks like a game of twister for giraffes.Very good timing.The composition is very well thought out.This shot has high visual impact.Great POV and the setting is wonderful.TFS


  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2007-04-22 10:53]

Hello James,
Excellent posting both for the fine capture and the superb note. The image is outstanding for its' technical aspects and just that you were able to get that close. My niece was in Africa a few months back and she said that wild giraffes were so much darker and thier markings so pretty, I can see what she means.

Hello James
Excellent shot of this Giraffes,
Intersring subject to shoot,
Perfect lighting and composition,


  • Great 
  • radz Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 598 W: 11 N: 72] (436)
  • [2007-04-22 12:52]

Beautiful moment you captured.Well seen and well taken.Nice POV&Composition..TFS!!

What a perfect composition these tall and elegant animals make in their sparring position, James!
I imagine them standing quite still in that position for long minutes, looking like a finely sculptured work of art.
A wonder image and all the more appealing as a scan from a slide.

Hi James,
Very good picture, with more of story tellig kind,.The repeated curves of the neck, is something interesting. You have rightly choosed verticle framing and POV is good. But i could see some noise at the back?

Well what a special pose they gave you James! They look so graceful... not like opponents. Yes you were quite close! Thanks for sharing such a special scene.

Evelynn : )

Hello James, :)

Just when I think you have shown me the best of the best, you post another photograph! James, you have been to so many places and I want to thank you for sharing them all with me/us here on TN. You make me dream really big dreams!

This is a wonderful artistic photograph! I love seeing photos with necks entwined and bent into interesting poses. Wonderful sharpness and the colours are superb!

Thank you so much, take care! Where are we traveling tomorrow? :)


Hi James.
Very beautiful capture of these two lovely animals. Well spotted (pardon the pun!) TFS.
Regards, Steve.

Hi James.
Interesting shot. Great photo, great atmosphere. Very well done. tfs. Stev

Hi James

Beautiful. Excellent colors. The accompanying note makes this wonderful.


Hi James,
I love this image of the two Giraffe's. They look superb sparring. I also like the different layers of colours you captured in the background. Yet another well scanned image.

Hello James,
You post so fast that I don't have time to see all your pictures :-) I really enjoyed reading those interesting facts about this original animal. A chiropractor should have fun with them :-) I’m amazed by their weight as I never realized that they could be so heavy...I like this beautiful pose you captures with good control on difficult lightning and nice environment and colors. Thanks,

Dear James,
I am very interested in this photo and your notes, because when we lived on a farm, we also had giraffes.

In my experience, the males do not appear to have any other "sinister" intentions than just wrestling...

We had only one couple (and had to learn - that experts had incorrectly advised us - 2 giraffes were too much for only 21 ha; One Giraffe needs 40 ha!!) and every day, mid morning he wandered to the bottom of the farm separated from a big game farm by a big fence, secured with four strands of electric wire (4,000 V)

There, he was joined on the other side by a male. They both stood in a right angle to the fence, and soon they started to swing their necks - head across the fence - first relatively gently then with increasing ferocity.

After some weeks the fence poles started to sway - and to stop the wrestling - we built up (above the fence) a barricade of electric wires. The giraffes continued their game having deep burn marks from the bare, electric wires.

Our female continued to feed - after a couple of hours mounting an old, partly broken termite heap - and looking in the direction, where her partner was wrestling.

I will never know, what was "said", but soon after he came back adorned with new burn marks on his neck...

This ritual never changed!

Your photo is an extremely good documentary.

Kind Regards

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