Giraffe Straddling its Legs to Drink
Caption: Male giraffe, with forelegs straddled wide, lifts its head while drinking from waterhole, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.
Camera: Canon EOS 50D; Lens Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM; Focal length 400mm; Shutter speed: 1/1600; Aperture: f/5.6; ISO 400; Exposure compensation: +0.7
Giraffe, when drinking, will either straddle the forelegs, bend the forelegs at the knees, or a combination of the two. Where there is a downhill slope to the water, a giraffe will often splay the front legs slightly and then bend them for better balance.
This straddling, splaying and bending of the legs is essential for the giraffe’s head to reach the water as the forelegs are longer than the neck.
In this position, giraffe are very vulnerable to attack so will not adopt the stance lightly. Before drinking, they check their surroundings carefully, often pausing, hesitating, and backing away before committing themselves.
While drinking, they also lift their heads frequently, leaving a trail of spray and agitated oxpeckers, which can provide good photo opportunities.
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