Northern Giraffe

Giraffa camelopardalis

The giraffe is an African even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest living terrestrial animal and the largest ruminant. Its specific name refers to its camel-like face and patches of color on a light background, which bear a vague resemblance to a leopard's spots. The giraffe is also noted for its extremely long neck and legs and prominent horns. It stands 5–6 m tall and has an average weight of 1,200 kg for males and 830 kg for females. It is classified under the family Giraffidae, along with its closest extant relative, the okapi. There are nine subspecies, which differ in size, coloration, pattern, and range.

The giraffe's scattered range extends from Chad in the north to South Africa in the south and from Niger in the west to Somalia in the east. Giraffes usually inhabit savannas, grasslands, and open woodlands. They prefer areas with plenty of acacia trees, which are important food sources, and can browse at heights that most other herbivores cannot reach. While adults are nearly invulnerable to predation, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas and wild dogs prey on calves. Giraffes commonly gather in aggregations that usually disband every few hours. Males establish social hierarchies through "neckings", which are combat bouts where the neck is used as a weapon. Dominant males gain mating access to females, who bear the sole responsibility for raising the young.

The giraffe has intrigued various cultures, both ancient and modern, for its peculiar appearance, and has often been featured in paintings, novels and cartoons. It is classified by the IUCN as Least Concern, but has been extirpated from many parts of its former range, and some subspecies are classified as Endangered. Nevertheless, giraffes are found in numerous game reserves.