The animal featured on the cover of Writing GNU Emacs Extensions is a giraffe. Reaching heights of up to 19 feet, the giraffe is the world’s tallest animal. Once found all over Africa, giraffes now live only in the grasslands from south of the Sahara almost to Cape Town. Giraffes’ markings resemble the appearance of sun and shadows on tree trunks, giving them a degree of camouflage when eating. Each animal’s markings are unique, similar to a human fingerprint. Giraffes eat mainly young leaves and shoots, primarily of the acacia and mimosa trees. In addition to using their long necks to reach leaves at the tops of trees, they use their tongues, which extend for almost 20 inches, to grab and pluck off leaves from even the most remote parts of trees. Giraffes spend approximately 50 percent or more of their waking hours eating.

The lifespan of giraffes in the wild is estimated to be 20 to 25 years. Adult giraffes have little to fear from predators. Their strong legs and hooves are excellent defensive weapons, and they are rarely attacked, even by lions. Giraffes live together quite peaceably, but there are occasional hierarchical fights among giraffe bulls. In these fights the bulls use their necks as weapons. Although the blows they deliver are powerful, serious injury rarely results from these fights, and kicks are never employed. When one giraffe is ready to concede superiority he takes a few steps back. The loser of the battle is usually allowed to continue living with the ...

Get Writing GNU Emacs Extensions now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.