He stood deep in the shadows. Silent. Unhurried.
He badly needed a drink, but experience had taught him that its better to be cautious. There have been signs that the infuriating lion pride were in the vicinity. The single lioness’ cubs also would have grown up a fair bit and might fancy their chances to attack him.
He looked around. It was all deathly quiet.
He continued with his musings. Even if the lions were not around, there were the leopards to be considered. And, as if these were not enough, someone had seen a pack of wild dogs recently.
Wild dogs !!! Since when did they turn up in these parts ?
He sighed. Life is never easy.
He chewed at the leaves of the nearby tree. Nothing like munching at something to reduce stress, he thought.
There was no movement around him. There was absolutely no one at the waterhole either. But he knew better than to hurry.
He continued munching.
There was an acacia tree on the other side and he idly wondered when it would be a good time to stroll across for a tiny snack. He usually waited for a long, long time before he felt certain that there wasn’t much of a danger in going for a drink.
Was he being over cautious ? He permitted himself a wry smile. He was still alive, wasn’t he ?
He thought of the zebras and the impalas who are equally wary before approaching any waterhole. Giraffes are much larger animals and cats are careful about attacking them. Plus, their long legs are helpful when running away and of course, they pack a powerful punch in their kicks. So powerful that a good kick can kill a male lion too.
But, none of the others get as much in a vulnerable position as I do.
Its really a pain in the neck for giraffes to take a drink. He chuckled at his own sad wit.
He stretched his long, slender neck to nibble at those really juicy leaves he had noticed and thought – what Nature gives with one hand, he taketh with the other.
To bend down the same long neck to drink water ain’t no easy task. He has to spread out his forelegs in an ungainly fashion, then bend them further and then bring down his neck. He could overlook the distinct lack of style in the pose but…Boy…what a vulnerable position to be in !!
Can a pose be more ungainly ? And, worse...more vulnerable ?
How on earth can I defend myself if under attack while I am drinking ?
He thought of the nimble fashion he once had seen a gazelle leap and evade a rushing leopard – the gazelle was actually drinking when it sensed the attack but could still escape.
Unfair, he groused. He could never do that.
Slow minutes passed. Things seem quiet. Safe.
He slowly walked over to the acacia tree on the other side. Might as well indulge in a little more feeding while waiting.
He suddenly heard a bit of a commotion and froze. And, right from where he was standing a few minutes back, a bush pig raced into view and to the waterhole.
He groaned in exasperation.
You do meet all sorts of unsavoury characters at a drinking hole.
This bushpig was such a clumsy oaf ! He would create so much of noise and attract the attention from all sorts of unsavoury characters. This night definitely wasn’t getting easier.
The bushpig lived upto his fears. He rushed to the waterhole and then fell into the water.
How on earth can someone fall into the water he was drinking from ?? Even if it’s a bush pig ? Really !
And then, for no reason, the bushpig scooted away without much of a drink. Which can only mean that he will come back for more, the giraffe gloomily thought.
He reached out for another munch.
The bushpig returned.
At least, I should give myself credit for knowing how these guys behave.
Time passed. Its been a while since the bushpig had had his fill and vanished and all the ruckus had not attracted any of those dastardly predators to the scene.
My, my ! What a ruckus ! What a mess !
Maybe, in a little while, he could go for a drink.
Ok…time to go. Its already been close to an hour and a half. He just felt that it was safe and he trusted his instincts.
He was the edge of the waterhole.
Now for the unstylish part.
He carefully spread his forelegs and stole a quick glance around him.
He bent his legs now and brought down his long neck to the water.
He puckered his lips as it touched the water and instinctively, pulled back his jaw, using it as a pump, allowing the sweet rush of the water into his mouth. There was another ‘pump’ located at the back of the mouth that stayed closed, allowing the water to stay in his mouth. As soon as he had a mouthful of water, he clenched his lips and the pump at the back of the mouth opened and the water rushed into the esophagus. He kept repeating these motions and then decided to pull back and lift its neck feeling the cool water, now go down his neck and enter his stomach.
As he lifted his neck, he noted with appreciation the interesting pattern that the water that dropped off his mouth created. He always enjoyed watching that and felt curiously proud if the pattern was an attractive one.
You got to admit...that's as close to a perfect pattern as you will ever get !
Of all things to be vain about, he thought as he bent down for another drink.
Maybe I should be prouder of the way I am designed that enables me to drink.
Ordinary folks faint when they get up suddenly and here I bring down my long neck such a lot and bring it up so quickly and feel perfectly normal.
He knew that when he bends down the blood pools in the veins of his neck. Almost a litre of blood is stored there and that temporarily reduces the amount of blood returning to the heart, generating less pressure when his head is down. He could feel the stored blood rush back to the heart as he raised his head, and a high pressure stroke pumps the blood back to the brain.
Beat that for a complicated design.
Who would have thunk that just going for a drink requires so much work ?
He thought he would go for one more drink.
Was there a sound out there ?
He dropped the idea of another drink, turned and silkily embraced the darkness.
A few links which helped me with the details of how a giraffe drinks :
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