Out of four giraffe species, this one is distinguished by irregular polygonal patches of varying paler colors between chestnut, orange, or chocolate, and the bull having an extra third ossicone (horn-like structure) measuring up to 12 cm (5 in). The legs below knee height are without spots and practically white.
This giraffe species occurs across northern sub-Saharan Africa and has three genetically recognized subspecies, namely- West African giraffe (G. c. peralta), Nubian giraffe (G. c. camelopardalis), and Kordofan giraffe (G. c. antiquorum).
Trophy hunting, illegal hunting, habitat loss, and fragmentation resulted in local extinction, and with the smallest known wild population estimates today, Northern giraffes are the most endangered giraffe species.
Oct 2021: According to a study published in the journal PeerJ, only about 5,000 Northern giraffes are left in the wild, which is much lower than previous estimates.
Did you know?
- Patches cover more of their faces than their southern relatives.
- Extensive hunting and exploitation resulted in only 49 individuals (by 1996) left in the wild of the subspecies West African giraffe. Still, conservation efforts resulted in a successful population recovery with 600+ individuals in 2018.
- A sharp population decline of >80% over just thirty years for the subspecies Kordofan giraffe, with only around 1500 individuals, continues to decline.
- In the 1980s and 1990s, their numbers were estimated at more than 13,704.
- Ossicones are the ossified cartilage in giraffes. These protuberances on their head look like horns.
- There are less than 6,000 Northern giraffes in the wild (this number is equivalent to the number of human births on Earth every hour), which is an alarmingly small population for this iconic megafauna.
- They might be seen chewing bark and sometimes licking dried corpses during foraging.
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Terrestrial / Aquatic
Altricial / Precocial
Polygamous / Monogamous
Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic
Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal
Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd
Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore
Migratory: Yes / No
Domesticated: Yes / No
Dangerous: Yes / No