Giraffe | AWF

The world’s tallest mammal is
struggling to find space to live

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Giraffe

Conservation Status:

Least Threatened

  • Population of about 80K individuals
  • Can gallop at 35 miles per hour
  • Native to more than 15 African countries

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Giraffa camelopardalis

Weight

Up to 3,000 lb.

Size

18 ft. tall

Life span

25 years

Habitat

Dense forest to open plains

Diet

Herbivorous

Gestation

Between 14 and 16 months

Predators

Humans, lions, crocodiles

Habitat

Where do giraffes live?

Giraffes are found in arid and dry savanna zones south of the Sahara, wherever trees occur.

Tags: Botswana, Cameroon, DRC, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kazungula, Maasai Steppe, Regional Parc W, Samburu, East Africa, Southern Africa, West/Central Africa View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What are giraffes?

Giraffes are the world’s tallest mammals. They are uniquely adapted to reach vegetation inaccessible to other herbivores. The giraffe has unusually elastic blood vessels with a series of valves that help offset the sudden buildup of blood (and to prevent fainting) when its head is raised, lowered, or swung quickly. Giraffe "horns" are actually knobs covered with skin and hair above the eyes that protect the head from injury.

Behavior & Diet

Giraffes are extremely picky eaters.

Although it feeds 16 to 20 hours a day, the giraffe may consume only about 65 pounds of foliage during that time. It can maintain itself on as little as 15 pounds of foliage per day. It will eat grass and fruits of various trees and shrubs, but its principal food source is the acacia tree.

They are not heavy drinkers.

Giraffes drink water when it is available, and they are able to survive in areas with scarce water.

Young giraffes are self-sufficient but vulnerable.

The 6-foot-tall calf grows rapidly, as much as an inch a day. By 2 months of age, the young giraffe is eating leaves and at 6 months, it is fairly independent of its mother. A young giraffe can even survive early weaning at 2 or 3 months. Although few predators attack adult giraffes, lions, hyenas, and leopards take their toll on the young. Scientists report that only a quarter of infants survive their first year of life.

Gallery
  • Giraffe Billy Dodson
  • Giraffe Craig R. Sholley
  • Giraffe Billy Dodson
  • Giraffe Billy Dodson
  • ParcW Camera AWF
Challenges

Humans hunt giraffes for their hides and meat.

Giraffe tails are highly prized by many African cultures. The desire for good-luck bracelets, fly whisks, and thread for sewing or stringing beads have led people to kill the giraffe for its tail alone. Giraffes are easily killed, and poaching (now more often for their meat and hide) continues today.

Giraffes are quickly losing their living spaces.

The number of giraffes in the wild is shrinking as their habitats shrink. As human populations grow and increase agricultural activities, expand settlements, and construct roads, the giraffe is losing its beloved acacia trees, which are its main source of food.

Solutions

Our solutions to conserving the giraffe:

  • Educate local communities.

    We educate communities living near giraffes on the importance of sustainable practices for agricultural and settlement growth by providing training on best practices and incentivizing conservation agriculture when appropriate.

  • Reforest key areas.

    African Wildlife Foundation has reforestation projects, focused in West Africa, which plant more acacia trees so giraffes can expand their habitats.

Projects

Will you show the giraffe your support?

With your help, AWF can continue working on programs like training for sustainable agriculture and reforestation efforts to replant the giraffe’s acacia trees. Donate today for a cause that will help with wildlife conservation and ensure the giraffe does not become an endangered species.

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