Giraffes were thought to be a common plains game, an iconic animal in Africa that was abundant throughout its range. Today, Giraffes are considered vulnerable on the IUCN Red List (estimated population of +-100 000 individuals) with some subspecies listed as endangered or critically endangered. World Giraffe Day is celebrated on the 21st of June each year in an attempt to spread awareness for these incredible and iconic animals.
Giraffes were previously thought to be one species with nine subspecies or races. Today, thanks to further DNA testing, there are a total of four species of giraffe consisting of five subspecies. They are as follows:
Masai Giraffe (found in Tanzania and central/southern Kenya)
Reticulated Giraffe (southern Somalia and Ethiopia and northern Kenya
- Nubian Giraffe (found in western Kenya and Ethiopia, northern Uganda and South Sudan)
- Kordofan Giraffe (found western South Sudan, northern DRC, northern Cameroon and southern Chad)
- West African Giraffe (found in Western Niger)
- Angolan Giraffe (found in Namibia/western Botswana)
- South African Giraffe (found South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe)
The previous subspecies known as the Thornicroft’s Giraffe has been found to be the same as the Masai Giraffe and the Rothschild’s Giraffe is the same as the Nubian Giraffe.
In the majority of Southern Africa, and on Kapama Private Game Reserve, you will find the South African Giraffe. South African giraffe is doing very well, with their numbers on the rise. We are very fortunate, here at Kapama, to have a very healthy population of Giraffe that provides us with many great photographic opportunities.
A few interesting facts about Giraffe:
– A Giraffe’s neck is too short to reach the ground, so you will notice, it awkwardly spread its front legs or kneels to reach the ground for a drink of water
– Like human fingerprints, no two individual giraffes have exactly the same pattern of spots
– Giraffes only need about 5 to 30 minutes of sleep in a 24-hour period, normally taken in short naps of a few minutes at a time
– Giraffes spend most of their lives standing up; they even sleep and give birth standing up
– If nutrients are lacking in their daily diets, they will eat bone to get phosphorous and calcium their bodies require
I personally love Giraffe and love photographing them. So, in light of World Giraffe Day, I decided to share a collection of interesting, iconic and wonderful Giraffe moments.
Story and photos by Southern Camp Ranger – Mike Brown