As we walk across the grounds of the Royal Livingstone Hotel we see a zeal of zebras grazing on the grass by the pool and wander towards them to get some photographs. Among the group is a young zebra that is staying close to its mother and a nearby guard turns as we approach. He is hired to protect the zebras from tourists that might be inclined to get a little closer than they should and vice-versa.
Zebras have the most distinctive coats of all animals and their stripes are as unique as fingerprints. Because of this uniqueness the stripes may help these animals to recognize one another. These patterns are also very useful for protection, as they make it difficult for predators to identify a single animal from a running herd and distort distance at dusk and at dawn. We take some photographs and then continue on our way.
The shuttle-bus is at the entrance of the hotel and we hop on board. As we set off for the Zambezi Sun Hotel, the driver asks us if we have enjoyed our time in Zambia so far. We excitedly tell him about our experience in the Devil’s Pool and our plans for tomorrow. As an afterthought we add “all we are missing now is to see some giraffes”. “Really?” he replies before pulling the bus over to the side of the road and getting out and gesturing for us to follow him. Low and behold, just behind the trees that line the road a giraffe is munching on some leaves.
These animals are the world’s tallest mammals, thanks to their long legs and necks. Their legs are longer than most humans are tall and allow them to run at speeds of over 55 kilometres per hour for short distances. Their long legs also benefit them when it comes to feeding, as they can reach the leaves (which they eat at a rate of about 30 kilograms per day) at the top of the trees that many other animals cannot. They do, however, get in the way when it comes to drinking and giraffes must spread their legs and bend down in a very awkward position to drink from watering holes. Luckily they only need to do this once every several days.
The giraffe poses for a few photographs before turning and walking off into the thicket. We thank the driver and continue on our way back to the hotel.
It has been a long day and so we decide to have dinner at the hotel restaurant, Squires Grill, before having an early night. Tomorrow we will have a very early start and a very long day, as we will be having our first white water rafting experience on the Zambezi River!