Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)

Conservation Status

Least Concern (LC)

Physical Description

The giraffe is the tallest mammal on earth. Giraffes have a spotted coat with varying patterns that is used as an aide for camouflage. Giraffe’s have long, sturdy legs with front legs longer than the back legs and a steeply sloping back from the shoulders to the rump. The long necks of a giraffe contain 7 elongated vertebrae. Giraffe tails are thin and long, with black tufts at the end of the tail used to whisk away flies and other flying insects. Giraffes have short, stubby horns called ossicones which are formed from ossified cartilage, large eyes, and a long (45 cm) black tongue used for grasping prickly food from the tops of trees.
Weight 1180 kg – 1930 kg
Size 4.7 – 5.7 m from ground to horns
Lifespan (wild) 15 - 20 years
Lifespan (captivity) 20 - 27 years

Behaviors

Giraffes roam open grasslands in small groups of about half a dozen to 30 but do not have strong social bonds, thus the composition of the groups changes frequently. Males violently war with each other, using their necks as weapons, during mating season, though otherwise they are docile creatures.

Social and Reproduction

Mothers with calves tend to gather in nursery herds, sometimes helping one another take care of various young, with males playing little to no part in raising the young.

Mating System Polygamy (Polgyny)
Breeding interval Every 20 – 30 months
Breeding season Rainy season
Gestation 457 days
Number of offspring one

Habitat and Food

Habitat

Giraffes are found in open grasslands, savannahs and open woodlands in Africa.

Food

Giraffes are herbivores with their main diet consisting of leaves from the Acacia trees. They also eat leaves, flowers, seed pods, fruits and sometimes soil when the savanna floor is mineral rich. The adaptation of their leathery tongue allows them to reach rich foods surrounded by thorny branches.

Predators

The main predators of giraffes are lions, with leopard, hyena and crocodiles also sometimes known to predate on giraffes. They are at their most vulnerable when bending down to drink from a waterhole.

Conservation Challenges

Giraffe populations are stable in some areas and threatened in others. Challenges include poaching, hunting and habitat destruction.

Naankuse Solutions

Naankuse is committed to protecting the giraffe population of Namibia through land conservation on our protected Sanctuary grounds and our research sites of Neuras and Kanaan.

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Giraffe at Naankuse sites