Professional photographer Mark Drysdale has been taking snapshots of wildlife for 25 years – but even he was taken aback by the sight of a Masai giraffe with an ᴇxᴛʀᴀᴏʀᴅɪɴᴀʀɪʟʏ ᴍɪssʜᴀᴘᴇɴ neck while on a safari in Africa’s Serengeti.
Instead of towering among the treetops, the animal’s neck appeared bent into a strange zig-zag shape. A local guide explained that the odd appearance was the result of an old ɪɴᴊᴜʀʏ that had healed without medical assistance – and the remarkable survivor had been a long-time local resident.
Nᴇᴄᴋɪɴɢ ʙᴀᴛᴛʟᴇs for dominance among giraffe males can be ᴠɪᴏʟᴇɴᴛ affairs, with opponents swinging their necks at each other to deliver blows with their horn-like ossicones (in fact, the “necks for s.ᴇ x” hypothesis suggests that these ʙʀᴜᴛᴀʟ necking ʙᴀᴛᴛʟᴇs are the reason giraffes evolved long, powerful necks in the first place). While these ᴀssᴀᴜʟᴛs rarely result in ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ, they can sometimes cause sᴇʀɪᴏᴜs ɪɴᴊᴜʀʏ.
“The animal had ʙʀᴏᴋᴇɴ its neck whilst fighting five to six years before and had remained in the area – where there are no conservation centres or vets – ever since,” Drysdale explains.
Despite its crooked neck, the giraffe seems to be coping well, making do with leaves on the lower branches of trees that are still within its reach. “It continues to lead a normal life in spite of its odd shape,” Drysdale notes in a Facebook update.
The largest giraffe subspecies, Masai giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) stand taller that any other members of the giraffe family, with some males (those with necks intact) reaching heights of up to six metres (20ft). Found in the southern parts of Kenya and Tanzania, the subspecies is recognisable by its distinctive jagged-looking coat pattern.
Another giraffe was also spotted in eastern Kenya and despite his extreme appearance, he didn’t seem the slightest bit bothered by an enormous kink in his neck. This sᴜʙʟᴜxᴀᴛɪᴏɴ of his neck vertebrae likely occurred early on in his adult life as he began jostling with other male giraffes for dominance at breeding time.
*“Nᴇᴄᴋɪɴɢ”, which involves giraffe swinging their neck using their head as a club, can inflict sᴇʀɪᴏᴜs ɪɴᴊᴜʀies and sadly even ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ. Thankfully however, the ɪɴᴊᴜʀʏ hasn’t compressed his sᴘɪɴᴀʟ ᴄᴏʀᴅ and despite no physios or nurofen in sight, this guy has found a way to adapt. It’s survival of the fittest and most fearless…