The Living Desert
Home  >  Animals  >  Giraffe


Giraffa camelopardalis


Bovidae, the cow and goat family.

Conservation Status:

Least Concern, IUCN

In 1998 the IUCN estimated the total number of giraffe in Africa to exceed 140 000. By 2012, according to assessments coordinated by GCF, this had dropped to fewer than 80 000 individuals; indeed, in some areas traditionally regarded as prime giraffe real estate, numbers had dropped by some 65 per cent.


Giraffe are mainly found south of the Sahara to eastern Transvaal, Natal, and northern Botswana.



Semiarid plains, savannas and woodland areas.


To drink, giraffes must splay their legs or kneel and their spots are like fingerprints–each pattern is unique.

Giraffes are tan with white markings and their long eyelashes and closable nostrils protect against blowing sand. Their long necks allow them to reach food high up in the trees and their tongues can be up to 18” long, which helps to grasp leaves, while their upper lip acts like a finger to pull on branches. They eat shoots, leaves, fruits, bark and seedpods, but their favorite is the acacia tree, which contains almost all of the nutrients they need, except salt and calcium, and can contain up to 74% water. They can consume up to 75 pounds of food in 24 hours and can go a long time without drinking water when eating acacia leaves.

Lions, leopards, African wild dog, cheetahs, hyenas and crocodiles can kill young or weak giraffes and the survival rate of young is low.

Male ranges are fairly stable, but female ranges less so, though they usually return to the same calving areas each year. A female can bear her first calf at 5 years of age. Gestation is approximately 15 months and only one calf is born which will be nursed for 9-10 months.

Zoo News