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[*Copyright © 2016 Datamatic, S.C. *]

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First Edition, 2016

Datamatic, S.C.

Miami, FL.


Text and research: Berenice Lorenzo.

Design: Sergio Góngora.

Editorial: Datamatic, S.C.

Photos: courtesy of Pixabay and the

respective authors.

All images rights are property of their

authors as listed in Pixabay.

Bioexpedition and its logo are trademarks of Datamatic, S.C.


There are four species of giraffes: Masai

or Kilimanjaro, reticulated or Somali,

Southern Giraffe and Northern giraffe.

Africa would not be the same without its

Giraffa) and Northern giraffe (Giraffa giraffes; large mammals with and


elongated neck and long legs that top

There are several theories about the

the list of the highest animal in the world origin and development of the long neck

and give the beauty, tranquility, and

of giraffes. While most scientists agreed

elegance that contrasts with the wild

on the reaching trees for food

landscape of their natural environment.

explanation, new theories argue that it

They belong to the Giraffidae family and

was a reproductive reason as males

the order Artiodactyla, which means that

usually fight with their necks for the right both legs end in an even number of

to mate a female. What is a fact is that


they do not have more vertebrae in their

necks but only seven, just like humans,

There are four species: Masai or

although their dimensions are huge.

Kilimanjaro giraffe (Giraffa tippelskirchi),

reticulated or Somali giraffe (Giraffa

Giraffes have been on the African

reticulata) Southern Giraffe (Giraffa

continent for at least 10,000 years.


There are several

theories about the

origin and

development of the

long neck of giraffes



The most characteristic feature of giraffes is their height. On average, a giraffe is between 4.5 and 5 meters high, but the Masai species males can reach up to 6 meters high; therefore, the Masai giraffe is the tallest mammal on Earth. The tail of a giraffe measures between 80 cm to a meter long, and their weight can range from 550 kg in females, up to nearly 2,000 kg in largest bulls.

They have a couple of ossified cartilage

protuberances on the head of approximately 13.5

cm long, called ossicones. These structures can help distinguish a male from a female because the latter have thinner and hairy ossicones.

Another noteworthy feature of giraffes is their skin. Each has a unique and unrepeatable

pattern of spots, like our fingerprints. The functions of these patches of brown tone are alienating the insects and parasites due to their particular smell and regulate their body

Their cartilage protuberances are

called ossicones.


Giraffe size comparison

Click on an image to compare. Only works on ibooks version.

Each giraffe has a unique

and unrepeatable pattern

of spots in its skin.


temperature to withstand the intense heat

of their habitat.

As mentioned, their neck has seven

vertebrae, the same number that we have.

But the difference is that each of these

bone parts in giraffes, measures up to 28

cm long, resulting in a neck of almost two

meters long.

Giraffe tongue is black and can measure

up to 50 cm.



Savannas, grasslands and open

Savannas, grasslands and open forests of

Years ago, there were large populations of

forest are their main habitat.

Africa, are home to all species and subspecies

giraffes in Sudan, but anthropogenic problems

of giraffes. Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Uganda decreased their population. Some think that and South Africa are among the countries they there are less than 250 individuals of the Nubian inhabit, either in the wild or natural reserves; giraffe, and approximately 700 Rothschildś

such as the Etosha National Park in Namibia, giraffes in the wild, both subspecies of the Samburu Nature Reserve in Kenya or Kruger

Northern giraffe which have small populations to National Park in South Africa.

survive many years.



Giraffes are social animals that organize in unstable herds of 10

to 20 individuals. This “instability” means that each one is free to leave the group whenever they want, because their links are not as strong as in other animals, except that of a mother with her offspring.

Within the herd, each member knows its role, as all contribute taking care from predators while resting or taking turns while drinking water. Their warnings also alert other animals that are small or against the wind about the proximity of danger. If a group of giraffes flees, everyone else should. Zebras and ostriches are usual followers of giraffe warnings.

A common myth was thinking that giraffes were mute, but it’s totally false. These animals are capable of producing vocalizations similar to a human cough, and their offspring emit more acute sounds when looking for attention. If we do not hear giraffes, probably is because they also communicate with infrasounds, sound waves of very low frequency that humans cannot detect.

Giraffes are social animals.



Giraffes have the advantage of reaching

higher leaves and branches to avoid any

confrontation with other herbivores. Their

favorite food is the trees and thorny bushes of Acacia, but it is complemented with

other vegetation. Those thorns are not a

problem for them, because their tongue

and thick saliva protect them from injuries, both in the mouth and internal organs.

They sometimes also chew small dry

bones for its high calcium content that

strengthen their ossicones.

They are slow digestion ruminants that

spend much time eating, ingesting 34 to 75

kg of vegetation every day and getting the

water from the leaves they consume,

although, in times of drought, they

additionally drink about 38 liters of water every three days.

In captivity, their feeding usually includes carrots, apples, seeds and leaves served

at their height.

The Acacia tree is one of their




Males are not territorial, but during the

breeding season, they perform the “necking”

a neck struggle where the strongest bull will be entitled to mate. After this ritual of force, none of the competitors show signs of

violence, and they can coexist in the same

space without aggression.

The male smells the urine of the female to

know their reproductive status and starts

making physical contacts to attract it. After the intercourse, the process of gestation

lasts between 425 and 465 days, which is

equivalent to approximately one year and

three months.

The calf birth is not very gentle; it falls from a height of two meters to the ground. In just twenty minutes, it can coordinate their body to stand up and start drinking the milk that the mother provides. The giraffe calf is not small; it reaches up to two meters high and weighs up to 100 kg.


The life expectancy of

giraffes in the wild is 15 to

25 years. Females live

25% more time than




The most vulnerable are the young as they do not possess the size bite it, always avoiding to get hit by the powerful kick of their back and strength that adults have to defend themselves. A mother or a legs.

bull that feels threatened can kill a predator with one kick.

But not only large predators are deadly to them; parasites and

Among the common natural predators are lions, hyenas, wild dogs

diseases are also a threat to the life of giraffes. The tsetse fly carries

and leopards. Sometimes crocodiles attack them while they incline

several diseases that can be fatal and larvae of other types of flies to drink water. Taking down a giraffe is not easy, so it requires and insects, as well as 15 types of ticks, tapeworms, and several members well organized to achieve it. Usually, they seek to whipworms, invade their tissues and internal organs, making them attack the neck of the giraffe and mount on its back to scratch it and unfit to have a healthy life.


Their natural predators

are lions, hyenas, wild

dogs, leopards and



The Rothschild and the Nubian

Moreover, man is causing their most severe

fly swatters and cords from their tail and skin.

giraffes are two of the most en-

problems because poaching and habitat

Similarly, in some parts of the continent, people dangered subspecies.

reduction caused that some subspecies

can pay to get the permission to shoot a giraffe,

became endangered, as their population

which makes difficult the work of preservation.

reduction makes them tough to survive because of the lack of genetic diversity. Some indigenous population eat giraffe meat and get bracelets, 25



  • ISBN: 9781370218844
  • Author: Laurent Mikhail
  • Published: 2016-10-18 10:07:35
  • Words: 1466
Giraffes Giraffes