World Giraffe Day 2020

World Giraffe Day (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an annual event initiated by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), the only NGO that focuses exclusively on giraffe conservation. The GCF is playing a critical role in ensuring the survival of the vulnerable giraffes. It is also a way to celebrate the tallest mammal on the planet.

World Giraffe Day
Giraffe Facts
  • They are the tallest land animal growing up to 6 metres (m), weighing in around 1400 kg.
  • Their neck is 1.8 m long and weighs around 272 kg. Their mane runs the entire length of their neck. The benefits of having a long neck allow them to access foliage high up in the trees, while not competing with other wildlife for food. 
  • The legs are 1.8 m long.
  • A giraffes tongue is 50 centimetres (cm) long, they have no front teeth in their upper jaw.
  • Their tails are 80-100 cm long to allowing them to whisk away flying insects off their long body.
  • Giraffes can run up to 60 km/h.
  • The lifespan of a giraffe in the wild is 15-20 years, compared to in captivity of up to 28 years.
  • Each giraffe has their own unique patterns.
  • Gestation for a giraffe is 13-15 months. A calf is born whilst the mother is standing and drops from a height of 1.8 m to the ground. The calf can walk within an hour of birth. Calves will remain with their mothers for around 2 years.
  • Giraffe predators are humans, lions, leopards, hyenas.
Africa's Giraffe
Tall Giraffe peering above the tree line

You will often see giraffes walking around with Oxpecker birds on their bodies. These birds remove ticks and other parasites that live in the giraffe’s fur and also alerting them to danger by chirping.

Giraffe with Oxpecker coming into land
Oxpeckers on Giraffes neck
Habitat

 The habitat of giraffes is the semi-arid savannahs and open woodlands throughout Africa. They are social animals, not territorial or confined to any territories. A group of giraffes is called a ‘Tower”, with around 10-20 members in the group.

Giraffes only sleep around 20 minutes a day in small bursts of around 5 minutes at a time, as they must always be alert for predators. It is for this reason that they don’t lie down but sometimes will sit always vigilant. 

Diet

They are herbivores, only eating plants, leaves, and fruits high up in branches.  They can go without water for weeks at a time as they get most of their required moisture from the food source. 

Giraffe tail
The giraffes “flyswatter” tail
Tower of Giraffes
A tower of giraffes
Conservation Status

Over the past 30 years the giraffe population has been decreased by 40%, and now is referred to as the “silent extinction”.  In 1985 the giraffe population was numbered 157,000. At last count, in 2015 only 97,000 giraffes were recorded. Their status is now listed as ‘vulnerable to extinction’. They are considered one species with nine different subspecies. (IUCN).

Giraffes under threat

Humans are the primary cause of the decrease in giraffe numbers. Human population growth, civil unrest, hunting for body parts, poaching, trophy hunting, habitat loss due to deforestation, and disease are all contributing to their decline.  By education, support, raising awareness, and supporting giraffe organisations it is possible to reverse the decline of these exotic and unique animals. 

Walking Pair
Giraffe grooming
Maasai Mara Giraffes
References

https://www.awf.org/wildlife-conservation/giraffe

Giraffe Conservation Foundation

Africa Geographic

IUCN Red List

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