Giraffe




Conservation Status: Conservation Dependent
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The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an African even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest
of all land-living animal species. Males can be 4.8 to 5.5 metres (16 to 18 feet) tall and
weigh up to 1,360 kilograms (3,000 pounds). The record-sized bull was 5.87 m (19.2 feet) tall
and weighed approximately 2,000 kg (4,400 lbs.).[2] Females are generally slightly shorter
and weigh less than the males do.

The giraffe is related to deer and cattle, but is placed in a separate family, the Giraffidae,
consisting only of the giraffe and its closest relative, the okapi. Its range extends from Chad
to South Africa.

Giraffes can inhabit savannas, grasslands, or open woodlands. They prefer areas enriched
with Acacia growth. They often drink, and as a result, they can spend long periods of time in
dry, arid areas. When searching for more food they will venture into areas with denser
foliage.

Giraffe gestation lasts between 14 and 15 months, after which a single calf is born. The
mother gives birth standing up and the embryonic sack usually bursts when the baby falls to
the ground. Newborn giraffes are about 1.8 metres tall. Within a few hours of being born,
calves can run around and are indistinguishable from a week-old calf; however, for the first
two weeks, they spend most of their time lying down, guarded by the mother. The young can
fall prey to lions, leopards, hyenas, and African Wild Dogs. It has been speculated that their
characteristic spotted pattern provides a certain degree of camouflage. Only 25 to 50% of
giraffe calves reach adulthood; the life expectancy is between 20 and 25 years in the wild
and 28 years in captivity.

males often engage in necking, which has been described as having various functions. One
of these is combat. These battles can be fatal, but are more often less severe. The longer a
neck is, and the heavier the head at the end of the neck, the greater force a giraffe will be
able to deliver in a blow. It has also been observed that males that are successful in
necking have greater access to estrous females, so that the length of the neck may be a
product of sexual selection.

After a necking duel, a giraffe can land a powerful blow with his head occasionally
knocking a male opponent to the ground. These fights rarely last more than a few minutes or
end in physical harm.
Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) believes the best way to save
endangered animals is to support conservation entrepreneurs who work in
cooperation with local communities. We identify best-in-field
conservationists and give them the capital and tools they need to create
sustainable futures for imperiled wildlife and the habitats in which they live.  
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