Giraffes: Galloping Towards Disappearance?
One of the most graceful creatures to walk the earth, the giraffe has been intriguing people for centuries, inspiring folktales, art, and even hieroglyphs. Unfortunately, several subspecies of giraffes are becoming endangered due to habitat destruction and excessive hunting (often just for sport) contributed by humans.
The Nubian giraffe is the most threatened of all, with fewer than 250 roaming the wild today.
How Nikela helps
The giraffe is Nikela’s icon due to its unique characteristics. Nikela provides numerous stories and articles about the how cruel canned hunting is, and what you can do to help. Read “Open Letter to the World Wildlife Fund about Sport Hunting” which has links to videos of giraffes being killed just for fun or even injured and left to die slowly- watch them if you can.
More About Giraffes
Distribution and Habitat:
There are nine sub-species of giraffes- the Nubian giraffe, the Somali giraffe, the Angolan giraffe, the Kordofan giraffe, the Masai giraffe, the Rothschild’s giraffe, the South African giraffe, the Rhodesian giraffe, and the West African giraffe. Giraffes tend to live in savannahs, grasslands, and open woodlands although some Angolan giraffes inhabit desert environments. Giraffes can be found throughout the African continent, from Chad in the north to South Africa in the South and from the east to the west.
Giraffes are known for their extremely long necks and comparatively short bodies covered in dark patches that are brown or orange in color separated by light fur that is usually white or cream colored. Every giraffe has a unique coat pattern, and male giraffes grow darker with age. An adult giraffe can be between 16-20 feet tall. They have eyes on the sides of their heads that give them a 360o view. Giraffes rely on their appearance for camouflage among trees and bushes to hide from predators.
Giraffes are herbivorous, consuming shrugs, twigs, grass, and fruit, however, they prefers trees of the genus Acacia, Terminalia, and Commiphora which provide them with the necessary elements calcium and protein. Giraffes have also been seen sometimes to chew on old bones. This is called osteophargia and is assumed to help with phosphorus intake. They drink water when they have access to it.
Behavior and Socialization:
Giraffes tend to move together in groups of individuals, and these groups change very often. These groups can consist of mothers and their calves, and young males who enjoy play fighting and socializing. As males grow older, they grow more distant from the group.
When they are not feeding giraffes roam for miles attempting to find food. Giraffes are not territorial and are very social animals. They are mostly quiet however they use snoring, hissing, and infrared sounds to communicate when they need to.
Conservation and Threats:
Several giraffe species have recently been listed as endangered including the West African giraffe and the Rothschilds giraffe. In places such as Senegal and Mauritania, giraffes have become locally extinct from places that they lived in for many years. The Nubian giraffe is the most endangered with less than 250 remaining in the wild. It is also estimated that there are less than 80,000 giraffes remaining in the wild today. Habitat loss of many giraffe species and European explorers used to hunt them for fun. Even today people, even whole families, hunt giraffes for sport in cruel ways, shooting them with bows and leaving them to die or killing them and posing with their dead bodies.
Contributed by Nikela Volunteer Aroma Naeem