Giraffe Killed By Lightning, But Predators Wouldn’t Eat It for Two Days

by Megan Molseed
(Getty Images/Londolozi Images/Mint Images

Recently, pictures of a giraffe that had been struck by lightning appeared online. The most curious thing about the situation, however, is the fact that wildlife predators wouldn’t touch the deceased animal for days after the strike.

Predators Refuse To Feast On Downed Giraffe For At Least Two Days After It Was Struck By Lightning

It seems as if this would be a sort of “gimme” when it comes to wildlife and predators hunting for food in the great outdoors.

However, it is a curious case as predators stayed away from the dead giraffe for at least a couple of days. Even after it had passed due to a lightning strike, making it easy food.

In a recent Facebook post, one South African local AnneMarie Scheepers shared pics of the downed wild animal. Pointing out the uniqueness of the unusual situation. In the post, which is detailed in a recent Newsweek article, Scheepers wonders if some poisons being excreted by the body after the deadly strike is what has been keeping the predators at bay.

“This tells a story,” Scheepers writes in a translated Facebook post.

“The lightning was rough one night and it rained nicely in Skukuza area,” the Facebook message continues.

“Next morning we drove and came upon the dead giraffe but there was no sign of predators eating or wanting to come and eat,” Scheepers details.

“Chatting with other campers this evening at camp,” she adds. “And heard that when lightning strikes an animal there is a poison being excreted,” Scheepers wonders. “It takes about 2 days to be released from the carcass.”

Experts Note That No “Formal” Studies Have Been Done On This Poison Excretion Theory

A 2014 article on this phenomenon does discuss what is described as delayed predation after a lightning strike. However, no official studies have been done on the theory.

“This ‘myth’ of delayed postmortem predation on lightning strike fatalities has been heard time and time again,” notes forensic pathologist Ryan Blumenthal. “From farmers around the country.”

“Although no formal studies have confirmed this phenomenon,” the pathologist writes of the phenomenon.

Blumenthal notes that if “delayed postmortem scavenging were indeed a reality” it would likely be due to an odor left by the strike on the carcass. Rather than a poison being excreted. Blumenthal notes that that is likely “some sort of lightning-related chemical odor on the carcass.” This, the forensic pathologist says, is causing the predators to avoid the animal the first few days.

“Perhaps singed fur could release a Sulphur-like smell,” the expert explains.

“Perhaps various esters or amines are released from a body post lightning strike,” Blumenthal adds. “Whatever the cause may be, this anecdotally reported phenomenon requires greater scientific scrutiny.”