Who are giraffes ?
3.50 – 5.20 m
from head to toe
(Leaves, fruits, flowers,…)
Male ou femelle ?
Males are bigger than females and having a darker coat. Even though all individuals have small round horns on top of their heads, only those of females have covered with black hairs. Male horns are generally worn out and with almost no hairs due to repeated rubbing while fighting for dominancy.
They are sometimes solitary and sometimes found in small groups. Giraffes have a slightly special social structure. Communities are continually evolving week after week and even day after day without any specific defined rule. An individual can be part of a group for some time and then one day decide to go on its own to finally join another group a few days after !
Giraffes are not territorial animals even though they spend their entire lives in the same are. They live together in peace. With a few exceptions ! Big males don’t share females with young ones and they can fight quite fiercely to establish dominance. The battles are somehow strange because they’re fighting with… their necks ! Until one of them is down. It’s only when having to face a predator that a giraffe will kick, giving often lethal injuries. Lions know this too well and they will only attack a giraffe if they’re quite sure they can catch it unharmed.
This it the gestation period of a giraffe. The mom gives birth to a single calf that can weigh up to 100 kg ! Despite falling from a 2 meter height, the calf is able to stand on its legs after only 5 minutes.
Giraffes can feed both during the day and at night, even if they are generally resting during the hottest hours of the day. However they never sleep more than a few minutes in a row. A lying giraffe is actually extremely vulnerable because it can get up quickly. This is the reason why giraffes are very wary when they drinking and that they don’t graze. They’d rather feed on leaves which are at the top of trees. Other species not being able to reach those, This assures giraffes a more sustainable source of food.
It’s not easy to get a drink when you’re the tallest land mammal on Earth…
Not even scared by the thorns !
With their 45cm long tongues, giraffes can bring foliage to their mouth with no trouble. But they will have to eat no less that 60kg of food everyday in order to feel full. This may seem like a huge figure but this is only half the amount herbivores usually need. Giraffes eat very nutritious leaves and have a very efficient digestive system.
And what about calcium ? They found the intake they by licking or eating bones. And believe us, bones are not a rare ressource in the savanna !
Where to see giraffes ?
This is an interactive map, don’t hesitate to mouse over it.
Countries where there are giraffes in the wild
Countries where we have already observed giraffes in the wild
How to observe giraffes ?
If you wan to see giraffes, you just have to go someplace where they live. Then, considering their size, it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to find them ! In Namibia, we even saw some outside of parks and reserves.
Once found, giraffes are not particularly scared of vehicles. So as long as you’re staying within their comfort zones, you will have plenty of time to observe them and take pictures.
Giraffes are almost never by themselves. You will often see them escorted with zebras or antelopes. All those little smart guys have understood that given their height, giraffes will see predators coming from far !
Are giraffes in danger ?
Estimation of the number of giraffe individuals living in the wild :
Giraffe are currently classified as a Vulnerable species. Depending on regions in Africa, the number of individuals varies a lot. Therefore hunting them is allowed in some countries where populations are thriving (Namibia, South Africa…). But hunting is prohibited in other countries (like Tanzania) where the number of giraffes is worryingly low.
What are the causes ?
Giraffes prosperity is under three major threats. The first is habitat loss to human expansion and it numerous activities such as log trading or agriculture. The second threat is armed conflicts between human populations (military operations, ethnic violence…) in areas giraffes call home. And the third one is poaching which is leading giraffes to their decline in regions such as Eastern Africa.