Confusing to early explorers, who described it as a cross between a camel and a leopard, the giraffe is certainly an awkward-looking creature. Its swaying gait comes as a result of it moving both right legs simultaneously, followed by both left legs; and its favourite food is the hideously spiky acacia, which it strips of leaves using its long, dark purple tongue. Though they are the world’s tallest land mammal – even a newborn giraffe stands at six feet (2m) tall! – their neck contains just seven vertebrae – exactly the same as a human.
Little wonder, then, that this curious gentle giant fascinated Africa’s prehistoric inhabitants, who depicted it in cave paintings across the continent. Unfortunately, the giraffe’s unique characteristics also led to them being heavily hunted.
Their tails alone were made into bracelets, fly-swatters, threads for sewing and threading beads, and the species found in Uganda – Rothschild giraffe – is now one of the most endangered giraffe species, with fewer than 700 individuals remaining in the wild.
The Rothschild’s Giraffe is an endangered subspecies endemic to Uganda and the tallest land mammal. It is a subspecies of the northern Giraffe which was recently suggested to be an ecotype of the Nubian Giraffe.
Males weigh 1000-1200 kilograms while female weigh 800-850 kilograms. Female Giraffes have a gestation period of approximately 15 months, and they give birth to a single calf, the mother becomes a refugee of its calf for approximately one or two months and their after returns to the family to introduce a new individual, female Giraffes are good at taking care of their young calf – a process which takes 2 years until when the calf is able to graze on its own with other individuals.
The Giraffe has the longest legs of any animal – the ungulates are typically long legged mammals. This elongation arises primarily through the lengthening of the lower part of the fore hind legs.
When you see a Giraffe in its natural habitat – dry savanna grassland with both loose stands of trees and thickets of thorny bushes. The Giraffe has the largest eyes among land mammals – the Giraffe has the large field of view. It can see fellow Giraffes, and also predators such as lions and leopard from far away.
The Giraffe walks by swinging its legs forward, first both legs on one side of the body and then both legs on the opposite side, Giraffe walk by simultaneously moving the left front and right rear legs and then the right front and left rear legs.
Best Places to see Rothschild Giraffes
- Murchison Falls National Park
- Lake Mburo National Park
- Kidepo Valley National Park
- And soon Queen Elizabeth National Park