WHAT ANIMALS EAT GIRAFFES?

Written by: Akeem Eletu

You would think every animal in the Savannah would steer clear of the tallest mammal in the world. But this is not so… Statistics show that about 75 percent of giraffes don’t live up to adulthood. Clearly, giraffes aren’t invincible and are preyed on by some daring animals. 

Despite the giraffes’ imposing height, they are still food to some animals. Whether these animals are asking for a death wish, or they are just confident they have the upper hand in tackling these tall mammals, the fact is that they eat giraffes.

This article presents a list of what animals eat giraffes. Read on to know what animals eat giraffes.

WHAT ANIMALS EAT GIRAFFES

The only animals that stand a chance against giraffes are large carnivores. This is due to their strong, sharp teeth and claws. A large carnivore’s body is also designed for stealth and speed, which is helpful in attacking an opponent more than three times their height.

Below is the list of daring animals that eat giraffes:

LIONS

These proud cats aren’t the kings of the jungle for nothing. They are active hunters and killers of giraffes. Lions are the most significant giraffe predators. In fact, lions are the only animals that can successfully kill an adult giraffe. 

But it’s not as easy as it might seem. Hunting down a giraffe requires a lot of effort on the lions’ part – because a giraffe will not go down without a fight. Giraffes can use their strong and large feet to kick predators. This usually leads to fatal wounds. Therefore, a lion will have to weigh its options and determine if attacking the giraffe is worth the risk.

If there is barely any food around and a pride of lions stumbles upon a tower of giraffes, they will go for them. It also takes more than one lion to kill a giraffe. A pride of lions is needed, and they will all cooperate to strategically tackle and kill the giraffe. The lions strike the giraffe from behind with their sharp claws, and once it falls, they immediately rip its neck, killing it off.

These attacks often come out unsuccessful because giraffes are well aware of their surroundings and usually prepare to ward off any attack once they sense they’re in danger. An assault on them can be extremely risky. That is why lions will usually go for the young, pregnant, sick, or disabled giraffes as they have a greater chance of bringing them down.

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HYENAS

Hyenas eat dead giraffes. Hyenas are not active hunters of giraffes like lions. Instead, they prefer to feast on the remains of animals that have already been killed. This does not exclude giraffes. For a pack of hyenas, the carcass of a giraffe is rain in the drought. The pack will eat to their fill.

However, if they want to take on a giraffe, they would have to rely on the pack’s strength, stamina, and a possible health challenge for the giraffe. Giraffes are known to be able to reach high speeds of 37mph, but hyenas are even faster, with top speeds of 40mph. If a pack of hyenas can wear the giraffe down, they are more likely to kill it.

However, the success rates aren’t so high, and a pack of hyenas would rather expend their energy on easier prey. Unless the giraffe is severely injured, weak, young, or isolated, hyenas would avoid the giraffe meat to preserve their lives and save their energy. They may also wait for another animal to do all the hard work and feast on the remains of the dead giraffe, as they are opportunistic eaters.

CROCODILES

Crocodiles do eat giraffes, but rarely. The water is a crocodile’s natural habitat. It only seems normal that these amphibians strike giraffes best whenever they stop by a body of water for a drink.

Giraffes are at their most vulnerable state when drinking water because their head is close to the ground, giving predators easy access to their necks. The front legs of the giraffes are also splayed, making it harder for them to get up and run when danger arises. Crocodiles don’t even need a pack to take down a giraffe, as most other carnivores do. They just lie in wait for the perfect time to ambush the giraffe.

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Whenever the giraffe stoops down for a drink of water, the crocodile waits until the giraffe is close enough to them, then goes for its neck. Afterward, the crocodile uses its weight to pull the giraffe’s head underwater and keeps biting at its neck until the giraffe finally gives up the ghost.

Many of the giraffe’s predators have noticed the water as their weak point, so they sometimes wait to attack giraffes when they stop for a drink. You will typically find that giraffes take turns to drink water in a bid to thwart any attack from other predators while they drink. But this may not be sufficient to stop the crocodile.

LEOPARDS

It is not uncommon for leopards to kill and eat a giraffe’s calf in extreme situations. But they always assess the risk of a possible clash with the tower before making their move. Leopards hunt alone, so it is rare for one to attack a giraffe. That doesn’t exempt them from being potential threats to giraffes. 

However, a leopard would rather keep its distance from a giraffe. Even if it is in a pack, the leopards won’t attack a giraffe unless they’re sure they stand a chance against these tall mammals. 

HUMANS 

Humans eat giraffes. The most adept species at taking down a giraffe is human beings. Human beings hunt giraffes for various reasons – one of such is for their meat.

Giraffe hunting is not illegal in many places,  so some humans hunt and kill giraffes for their meat. While some of such giraffe hunters are trophy hunters who make a sport out of killing these harmless creatures, others are poachers who illegally traffic giraffe meat to people willing to have a taste. It might surprise you, but some people relish the taste of giraffe meat.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Giraffes naturally do not have many predators, thanks to their physical attributes. But that doesn’t mean their existence isn’t threatened. Most giraffe predators prefer to go for the young, thereby reducing the giraffe population.

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