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Giraffes eat a lot and often. They spend up to 20 hours consuming up to 75 pounds of food in one day. Mostly active early in the morning and in the evening, giraffes live alone or in groups. One herd recorded in the 19th century contained more than 100 animals, but today, group size is usually limited to 10 animals. Giraffes are not territorial, and their home ranges of 14 to 101 square miles often overlap. Although giraffes do not vocalize often, they can grunt, snort, whistle, and bleat.
Giraffes are herbivores, mainly eating leaves, especially from acacia, mimosa, and wild apricot trees. Their long, bluish, and flexible tongues can extend up to 18 inches to pluck these leaves. When necessary, giraffes can go for months without water.
Some of My Neighbors
Lions, Hyenas, African Wild Dogs, African Elephant, Springbok, Impala, Buffalo, Hartebeests, White-eared Kob, Hippopotamuses
During the dry season from May to August, female giraffes give birth, after a pregnancy of 15 months. Within 20 minutes, a calf can stand on its own. A born giant, it may be up to 6.5 feet tall! Giraffe calves grow up quickly, often doubling their height within the first year. They remain with the mother for a year and a half. Giraffes reach full size in 5 to 7 years and can live into their mid-thirties.
Population Status & Threats
The giraffe is classified as lower risk/conservation dependent, which means that it does not face an immediate threat of population reduction but is still dependent on conservation programs for protection. Over the past decade, the giraffe population has declined by about 30 percent, and today, fewer than 100,000 remain across Africa. Though giraffes have long been considered to represent a single species, recent scientific work shows that its various populations may actually comprise a group of at least six species. If that’s the case, some newly defined giraffe species could presumably be threatened by extinction due to their smaller populations and more limited geographic range. No matter the number of potential species, the major threats giraffes face are hunting and loss and fragmentation of their habitat.
WCS Conservation Efforts
The Wildlife Conservation Society is currently studying giraffe populations in Southern Sudan
and the Luangwa Valley of Zambia
to determine how many there are and whether they represent different species.Next: Grevy's Zebra >>