The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is the world’s tallest land mammal at times growing upto 5 meters tall. The average mass for an adult male giraffe is 1,200 kilograms (2,600 lb) while the average mass for an adult female is 830 kilograms (1,800)
Kenya has three species of giraffes. These are the Rothschild giraffe, Reticulated giraffe and Maasai giraffe. Unlike other kinds of giraffes, the Rothschild has no spots on its legs from the knees down and on a light note; people say it is wearing on white stockings. In addition, it has five horns instead of the usual two. It is also the most endangered of the giraffes in Kenya and is restricted to Western Kenya with a few hundred left in the wild.
The reticulated giraffe is found in Northern Kenya. It is distinct from the other two species of giraffe by the bright coloured red white coat color that draps the entire body to the legs. The Masai Giraffe, also known as the Kilimanjaro is the largest subspecies of giraffe and the tallest land mammal. It is found in Kenya and Tanzania. Its disctinct from the rest because of the jagged leaf like pattern on their bodies.
FACTS ABOUT GIRAFFES
· The tongue on the giraffe is 45 cm long and it feeds for 16 hours a day and up to 16 kilogram's of leaves.
· The giraffes diet consists of vegetation found on thorny trees and while eating they may get pricked thousands of times but these heal in a couple of minutes because their saliva serves as an antiseptic.
- Giraffes are fast runners, reaching speeds of 35 miles per hour. That's about as fast as a good horse!
- Every giraffe has a unique pattern of spots, much like a human fingerprint
- Both sexes have horns with horns of female smaller. The appearance of horns is a reliable method of identifying the sex of giraffes, with the females displaying tufts of hair on the top of the horns, whereas males' horns tend to be bald on top — an effect of necking in combat. Males sometimes develop calcium deposits which form bumps on their skull as they age, which can give the appearance of up to three additional horns.
- A giraffe’s tongue is extremely long tongue (about 45 centimeters/.
- Sleeping: The giraffe has one of the shortest sleep requirements of any mammal, which is between ten minutes and two hours in a 24-hour period, averaging 1.9 hours per day.
- Communication: Although generally quiet and non-vocal, giraffes have been heard to make various sounds. Courting males will emit loud coughs. Females will call their young by whistling or bellowing. Calves will bleat, moo, or make mewing sounds. In addition, giraffes will grunt, snort, hiss, or make strange flute-like sounds. Recent research has shown evidence that the animal communicates at an infrasound level.
Though giraffes aren't in immediate danger of extinction, they're considered to be near threatened. They suffer from two main problems: habitat loss and hunting. As the human population grows and settlements expand, giraffes are crowded out of their habitat. At the same time, the animals are being poached for meat and for their body parts: hair for making bracelets and thread, skin for shield covers, and sinew for bowstrings.
Giraffes are hunted for their tails, hides and meat. The tails are used as good luck charms, thread and flyswatters. In addition, habitat destruction also hurts the giraffe.
However, the populations in eastern and southern Africa are stable and, due to the popularity of privately owned game ranches and sanctuaries. The giraffe is a protected species in most of its range. The total African giraffe population has been estimated to range from 110,000 to 150,000. Kenya (45,000), Tanzania (30,000), and Botswana (12,000).
In Kenya Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife (Giraffe Centre) works to protect the Rothschilds Giraffe by rescuing orphaned baby giraffes and raising in a sanctuary.The Giraffe Center is a non-governmental, non-profit making organization, which was founded by Betty and Jock Leslie-Melville in 1979 in a bid to save the endangered Rothschild Giraffe, which had lost its natural habitat in Western Kenya to agriculture and there were only 130 left in the wild. Funds were raised and four herds were moved to four parks namely Lake Nakuru National Park, Mwea Game Reserve, Ruma National Park and Nasalot Game Reserve. Today the Rothschild Giraffe population in Kenya is about 500.
The objectives of giraffe centre are:
To provide free environmental education to the Kenyan youth
• Conservation of endangered species
• Support of other conservation projects all over Kenya
Kenya Wildlife Service launched a National Giraffe Conservation Strategy, the first giraffe-focused conservation action plan of its kind in Africa. This strategy will work to conserve all three of the giraffe sub-species found in Kenya, in particular the endangered Rothschild's giraffe. Rothschild's giraffes have been re-introduced to six sites in Kenya - Ruma National Park; Mt. Elgon National Park; Murgor Farm, Iten; Sergoit-Kruger Farm, Iten; Kitale Area Farm; Nasalot Reserve.
A project of the Mammal Research Unit in the School of Biological Science at the University of Bristol, England and Kenya's Soysambu Conservancy, researchers are working with Kenya Wildlife Service and others to develop a conservation strategy for the Rothschild's giraffe in East Africa.
On the other hand, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation is actively supporting the Rothschild's Giraffe Project as well as other giraffe research across Africa with the provision of technical support and funding, as well as sharing data and results for a comprehensive approach to giraffe conservation. The current project sites are in Kenya, Botswana and Niger.