The Giraffe, the tallest land mammal (up to 20 feet tall), is well-known for its extremely long neck. Giraffes are native to sub-Saharan Africa.
Its height and long neck allow it to reach leaves well out of reach of other terrestrial animals.
Giraffes used to be considered as one species with several subspecies, distinguishable mainly by the patterns of their coat.
In late 2016 they were divided into four species: Northern
(Giraffa camelopardalis), Southern
(G. giraffa), Masai
(G. tippelskirchi) and Reticulated/Somali
The Baringo Giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi, above left, also called the
Ugandan Giraffe and Rothschild's, is endangered. They are the tallest and rarest of the three species from East Africa.
Others are extremely rare, including the nominal Northern subspecies, the Nubian Giraffe from south Sudan/Ethiopia, which is rare in the wild and in captivity.
Giraffes live in small, non-constant groups, mainly females, calves and young adults with occasional, itinerant males. They are polygamous.
Both males and females have small horns on their heads.
The Latin name comes from "camel" and "leopard" and the first giraffes were described as like long-necked
dromedary camels with leopards' spots and were called "camelopards".
The Reticulated Giraffe, above, Giraffa reticulata, previously G. camelopardalis reticulata,
also called the Somali Giraffe, with its distinctive warm red coat with large, fairly solid-edged, close pattern, is also native to East Africa:
north-eastern Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. It is also rare.
The most numerous Giraffe is the Masai Giraffe of Kenya and Tanzania, followed by the South African Giraffe (neither
shown here), both (especially the former) with smaller, wide-spaced, jagged, dark blotches.