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Giraffe

Giraffe head and face

COMMON NAME: Giraffe

SWAHILI NAME: Twiga

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Giraffa camelopardalis

TYPE: Mammals

FOOD: Herbivores (Acacia leaves at the apex of the tree)

HABITAT: Savannah woodland (Acacia )

SIZE: 14 to 19 ft ( 4.3 to 5.8 m) – 3 cm to the shoulder

AVERAGE LIFE SPAN IN THE NATURAL HABITAT: 25 years

ACTIVE: Day and Night

GESTATION PERIOD: 15 months

WEIGHT: 794 to 1270 kg (1,750 to 2,800 lbs)

SIZE COMPARISON TO A 6-FT MAN:

giraffe size

Giraffe

(Giraffa camelopardalis)

About the African Giraffe

The giraffe is the tallest animal on land with an average height of around 5 meters (16-18 ft.) from top to bottom.

Its scientific name Giraffa camelopardalis came from the belief that it was related to a camel and a leopard because of its resemblance to the camel, characterized by its long legs, long neck, and distinctive spotted pattern that makes it look like a leopard’s pattern.

BEST DESTINATIONS FOR GIRAFFE IN TANZANIA & KENYA

Giraffes live in Africa’s savannah woodland where acacia trees are found in plenty. Their long height makes them eat leaves and shoots located higher on the trees where other animals cannot reach.

The best place to see the giraffe in Tanzania is the Serengeti National park and the Tarangire national park where there are many Masai giraffes. 

The best destinations to see the giraffes in Kenya is the Amboseli national park, Masai Mara Game Reserve and Samburu National park where there are many reticulated giraffes.

Giraffe Adaptation, Behaviour & Gestation Period

Their adaptation to their environment gives them long tongues which to help pull leaves from the trees. A full-grown giraffe consumes over 45 kg (100 lb.) of leaves and twigs a day which means they spend most of the day eating.

When walkinggiraffes move like they are cat walking, both legs on one side of their body and then both legs on the other side; this unique movement is specific to giraffes. They run just like all other animals, however they cannot run for a long distance with a running speed that can reach 55 km/h (35 mph) at full speed.

Giraffe sleeping
A sleeping Giraffe

Giraffes are active for more than 20 hours a day, they remain active day and night and they sleep less than two hours a day. When sleeping, giraffes tuck their long feet with their head resting on their hindquarters, Sometimes they sleep while standing for a very short time.

Normally in the wild, Giraffe live up to 25 years. At around 5 years old, an adult female giraffe is able to become pregnant. About the giraffe gestation period, they carry a baby for about 15 months and give birth while standing up an event that is very quick and takes about 30 minutes before the baby giraffe becomes vulnerable to predators like lions and hyenas. Newborns are about 2 m (6 ft.) tall and weigh 70 kg (150 lb.).

Types of Giraffes ( Species )

Giraffe Species found in Tanzania and Kenya

The most common giraffe species that is found in Tanzania is the Maasai Giraffe, while a few species of the reticulated giraffes can be found in parts of Kenya, like the Samburu national park. It was in 2016 that Genetic research led to a four new taxonomic classification derived from single species of giraffes which also led way to five subspecies and two ecotypes. The new species which are listed below include the northern giraffe, the southern giraffe, the reticulated giraffe and the famous Masai giraffe.

  • Masai Giraffe

    The Masai giraffe also known as the Kilimanjaro Giraffe also scientifically referred to as (Giraffa tippelskirchi), is the largest of all the giraffe species. The Masai giraffe is alsothe tallest land animal. 

  • Rothschild Giraffe

    The Rothschild’s giraffe formerly one of the subspecies is now considered and ecotype of the Northern giraffe because of the taxonomy changes of 2016. This giraffe also is known as Ugandan or Baringo dwells mainly in Kenya and Uganda.

  • Reticulated Giraffe

    The Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa reticulata) has a coat pattern with uniform-colored spots and sharp edges making it easy to identify. They inhabit the savannas and open forests of Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

  • Northern Giraffe

    The Northern Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is a species that according to the new taxonomic classification of 2016 it has three subspecies, the Nubian, the Kordofan and the West African giraffes. The savannahs of Kenya and Ethiopia are its primary habitats.

Giraffes Found in other African Countries

  • West African Giraffe

    The West African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta) also known as Nigerian giraffe is one of the subspecies of the Northern giraffe which inhabits a small area of Nigeria and is probably the most threatened subspecies.

  • Southern Giraffe

    The Southern Giraffe (Giraffa giraffa) has two subspecies, the Angolan giraffe, and the South African giraffe according to the new taxonomic classification of 2016. Both subspecies dwell in countries like Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

All Giraffe species and subspecies in numbers:

Southern giraffe Giraffa giraffa

52,000

    Angolan giraffe G. g. angolensis

13,000

    South African giraffe G. g. giraffa

39,000

Northern giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis

5,190

    Nubian giraffe G. c. camelopardalis

2,640

    Kordofan giraffe G. c. antiquorum

2,000

    West African giraffe G. c. peralta

550

Reticulated giraffe Giraffa reticulata

8,700

Masai giraffe Giraffa tippelskirchi

32,500

Frequently asked questions

Frequent Questions About African Giraffes

What is the tallest and biggest giraffe in the world?

unfortunately, the tallest giraffe ever recorded in the world died in July 1969. It was named George, a Maasai bull (male giraffe) from Kenya that was transferred to Chester Zoo in England, United Kingdom. George the Giraffe stood at 19ft from head to hoof and 20 ft from horn to hoof when he was nine years old.

How long does it take for a giraffe to give birth?

The gestation period of a giraffe normally takes around 15 months for a baby giraffe to be born. Labor takes only about a quick 30–60 minutes once the hooves of the baby giraffe begin to be seen because if labor takes any longer, the baby giraffe will be an easy target for predators in the wild.

Why do giraffes have long tongues

Being browsers, giraffes have developed long tongues that are so dexterous and flexible so that they can browse, select and grasp any particular leaves and twigs that they want, while the inner linings to their mouths seem to be leathery so that they can chew and press thorns from acacia trees without harming themselves

Why do giraffes have long eye lashes

Giraffes have long eyelashes to sense the thorns on acacia trees, the lashes also help in protecting the giraffes form dust and ants out of their eyes

What types of giraffes are endangered and vulnerable?

Due to poaching, deforestation, human encroachment due to our ever-growing population, habitat loss, habitat degradation Human activity continues to impact on giraffe population and their habitat across the world and the African continent in particular.

According to the IUCN Red List, these are the most vulnerable and endangered species of the Giraffe in the world.
Vulnerable: as a species – Giraffa camelopardalis
Endangered: Rothschild’s giraffe (G. c. rothschildi – now subsumed into Nubian giraffe G. c. camelopardalis)
Endangered: West African giraffe (G. c. peralta)

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