General, Research, Technology

How often are tall giraffes hit by lightning?

Almost all of us know from childhoodthat during a thunderstorm it is impossible to stand under tall trees. And all because lightning often strikes precisely at tall objects, especially if there is nothing around. In such situations, it is easy to die from severe electric shock. Giraffes are considered the tallest animals in the world and they live on open savannas. The question arises - how often do these creatures die from lightning strikes? There are no exact statistics, but such cases do happen very often. For example, in 2019, two giraffes died during a thunderstorm in Florida. Usually conservationists simply record the fact of death and no research has been done on this topic. But recently, this gap was filled by a researcher from South Africa, who detailed the deaths of two individuals. What interesting did she learn?

Giraffes are considered the tallest animals in the world and should clearly be struck by lightning

How tall is a giraffe?

The results of the scientific work were published in the African Journal of Ecology. Giraffes are rightfully considered the tallest animals on our planet, because their growth can reach 6 meters... It's like a 2-3 storey building. Due to their large growth, they can eat untouched leaves from the tops of trees. They are also more likely to notice the approach of predators from afar. Some scientists also believe that the long neck of giraffes is involved in regulating body temperature, but this is not yet convincing evidence.

Giraffes can grow up to 6 meters

Cons of being tall

But tall giraffes can play with them andcruel joke. Researchers have already documented their deaths many times due to lightning strikes. In 2017, a group of eight giraffes was released into the Rockwood African Sanctuary. The animals quickly got used to the new place and preferred to stick together, because it was important for them to communicate with each other. Conservationists regularly watched them and on February 29, 2020 noticed that the group was missing two giraffes. Two days later, their bodies were found in an open area, seven meters from each other.

The place of death of giraffes is marked with a red asterisk. As you can see, there are many bushes around, but one of the individuals was in an open area.

Giraffes disappeared after a severe thunderstorm. Therefore, the researchers were not surprised to find a hole in the skull of one of the individuals left by a lightning strike. Apparently, the lightning was attracted by the so-called ossicon giraffe - the so-called growths on their heads,which resemble horns. However, these are horns in the truest sense of the word, and they are often used by giraffes in fights. In the video below, you can see how giraffes fight. You will probably notice that they aim at each other for the neck, because that is the most vulnerable part of their body.

Skulls of dead giraffes. A hole can be seen on the right skull

See also: How long can lightning reach?

Safety during thunderstorms

The animal's mistake was that they did notbegan to hide from the rain and continued to stand in an open area. But they could well sit in the nearby bushes and wait out the storm. Previous studies have shown that when it rains, giraffe activity is reduced by 13%. This means that some of them are still aware of the danger and trying to wait out the storm in a secluded place... Only here is scientific evidence thatgiraffes know how to hide in the rain, not yet. Most likely, after the publication of the results of this study, scientists will study the behavior of giraffes with greater responsibility. The new knowledge will help them develop a plan for their protection from lightning strikes, because these creatures are already in a vulnerable position. At the moment, there are about 150 thousand giraffes in the world.

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It may surprise you, but after being struck by lightningmany people survive. There was a man in history who survived as many as seven lightning strikes. His name is Roy Sullivan and we wrote in detail about his life in this article. Enjoy reading!