Its own environment is the West African giraffe’s biggest threat

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West African Giraffe

Conservation Status:


  • Can weigh up to 2,800 lbs.
  • Live in herds of about 15 members
  • Less than 600 individuals left

Quick Facts

Scientific Name

Giraffa camelopardalis ssp. peralta


Up to 2,800 lbs


16–19 ft. tall


Up to 25 years


Forests to open plains




15 months


Lions, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs


Where do West African giraffes live?

Before World War I, West African Giraffes lived throughout the Sahel and Savanna regions of West Africa. However, due to extreme population decrease, they now inhabit only a small part of Niger.

Tags: Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, West/Central Africa, Regional Parc W View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What are West African giraffes?

The West African giraffe is a subspecies of giraffe, distinguished from other types by its light, tan-colored spots. Other giraffes have darker markings. It stands between 16 and 19 ft. tall, and can weigh up to 2,800 lbs. Males have thicker horns than females, and are taller. Males often fight for leadership as well as mating rights. Females are responsible for caring for the young.

Behavior & Diet

They are wild.

West African giraffes only exist in the wild. Previously it was thought that there were a number of them in European zoos, but recent genetic tests have shown that what were thought to be West African giraffes were actually a different subspecies called the Kordofan giraffe.

West African giraffes are nomads.

They are nomadic, moving around to find food. If a few are heading in the same direction, they may form a group.

They are picky eaters.

West African giraffes feed on a variety of leaves and shoots, but the bulk of their diet is made up of a few species of trees and bushes, with Acacia trees being their utmost favorite. 

The West African giraffe isn’t a heavy drinker.

In the wet season it is able to obtain a majority of its water intake through the leaves it consumes, and in the drier months, it drinks a few times per week—sometimes up to 10 gallons at a time.

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  • West African Giraffe
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  • West African Giraffe

As human numbers go up, West African giraffe numbers go down.

Human population increase has had a severe impact on the West African giraffe. As the population increased, humans began living closer to the giraffes and cutting down trees, resulting in habitat loss.

Their beauty puts their lives at risk.

West African giraffes are hunted, often for their tails, which are prized in many African cultures. They are also hunted for their pelt and meat.


Our solutions to protecting and conserving the West African giraffe

  • Work with communities living with giraffes.

    AWF trained guides from a local community organization, the Association for Valorisation of the Ecotourism, to monitor West African giraffes. These guides track the giraffes on motorbikes and use GPS units and cameras to follow and identify the giraffes daily. We also funded a census by the Association to Safegaurd the Giraffes of Niger.

  • Replant the West African giraffe’s habitats.

    AWF established village nurseries to grow seedlings in the most critically deforested habitats in our Parc W landscape.


Will you show the endangered West African giraffe your support?

With your help, AWF can continue our efforts to keep West African giraffe populations from plummeting further, by working with guides to protect the giraffes and replanting their decimated habitats. Donate today for a cause to help ensure that the West African giraffe does not disappear.

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