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Giraffe

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gwendolen
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Giraffe

Unread postby gwendolen » Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:22 pm

Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)

Classification:
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Giraffidae
Genus: Giraffa

Other names:
Afrikaans: Kameelperd
French: Girafe
German: Giraffe
Dutch: Giraf
Portuguese: Girafa

The Giraffe is an even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest of all land-living animal species.
Males can be 4.8 to 5.5 metres (16 to 18 feet) tall and weigh up to 900 kilograms (2000 pounds).
Females are generally slightly shorter and weigh less.

Native to Africa, the Giraffe is related to deer and cattle, but is placed in a separate family, the Giraffidae, consisting only of the giraffe and its closest relative, the Okapi.

The species name camelopardalis (camelopard) is derived from its early Roman name, where it was described as having characteristics of both a camel and a leopard (and perhaps being a hybrid of the two).

There are nine generally accepted subspecies, differentiated by color and pattern variations and range.
One of them the South African Giraffe — rounded or blotched spots, some with star-like extensions on a light tan background, running down to the hooves.

Giraffes are well known for long necks that allow them to browse on the leaves of trees.
The bony structure of the neck is essentially unchanged from that of other horse.
The giraffe has seven greatly enlarged neck vertebrae (the same number as horses and humans).
A giraffe's heart, which can weigh up to 10 kg, has to generate around double the normal blood pressure for a large mammal in order to maintain blood flow to the brain against gravity.
In the upper neck, a complex pressure-regulation system called the rete mirabile prevents excess blood flow to the brain when the Giraffe lowers its head to drink.
Conversely, the blood vessels in the lower legs are under great pressure (because of the weight of fluid pressing down on them).
In other animals such pressure would force the blood out through the capillary walls:
Giraffes, however, have a very tight sheath of thick skin over their lower limbs which maintains high extra vascular pressure in exactly the same way as a pilot's g-suit.

The pace of the Giraffe is an amble, though when pursued it can run extremely fast.
Its leg length compels an unusual gait with the left legs moving together followed by right (similar to pacing) at low speed and the back legs crossing outside the front at high speed.
The small size of its lungs prevents it from supporting a lengthened chase.

The Giraffe defends itself against threats by kicking with great force.
A single well-placed kick of an adult giraffe can shatter a lion's skull or break its spine.
The Giraffe has one of the shortest sleep requirement of any mammal, which is reckoned to be between 20 minutes and two hours in a 24 hour period.

A Giraffe will clean off any bugs that appear on its face (usually while eating) with its extremely long tongue (about 18 inches).
The tongue is unusually tough on account of the giraffe's diet, which often consists of thorns from the tree it is making a meal of.

Giraffes are thought to be mute.
However, recent research has shown evidence that the animal communicates at an infra sound level with a surprising level of complexity.

Habitat:
Plains and woodlands.

Reproduction and social life:
Giraffe gestation lasts between 14 and 15 months after which a single calf is born.
The mother gives birth standing up.
Newborn giraffes are about 1.8 metres tall.
Within a few hours of being born, calves can run around and are indistinguishable from a calf that may be a week old already.

Conservation status:
Lower risk
Last edited by gwendolen on Sun Oct 01, 2006 9:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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wildtuinman
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Re: Giraffe eating "off" the ground

Unread postby wildtuinman » Wed Mar 16, 2005 6:05 am

floydy wrote:Hi all, last weekend we noticed two giraffe eating off the ground, definately not drinking, this is the first time we have ever seen anything like this, could it be the possibility of obtaining salt?


What did the type of habitat look like where they were feeding? If it was very open with little grass (called a salt plain) then they were most probably licking salt.
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wildjohn
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geophagia

Unread postby wildjohn » Wed Mar 16, 2005 11:14 pm

Hi,

Alot of animals lick the ground and chew soil for additional nutrients, in response to nutrient deficiencies (ie. sodium, phosphorous, calcium etc.) - As all of you responders have suggested. The scientists call this 'geophagia' - where they literally eat from the earth..

I once found, and still have kept it, some kudu pellets that were completely clay. I thought at time it was one of the ant/termite eating mammals that voided the soil like they normally do. We analysed it somewhere & found that out.

Anyway, there are particular sites in park called Sodic sites, WTM touched on it a bit. They are usually flat, low lying areas adj drainage lines and have a sparse grass cover owing to the high nutrient status soils and thus grass which is heavily grazed. I have seen things licking soil in these specific areas.

Regards,

wj

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kwenga
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giraffe patterns

Unread postby kwenga » Mon Mar 28, 2005 3:47 pm

Hi folks,
browsing through my photos I just wondered why most (?) giraffes have a pattern like this one
ImageLarge
but some come with kind of 'frizzled' spots like this one
ImageLarge
what's the explanation for this?
Last edited by Elsa on Wed Jun 26, 2013 4:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Pics resized.

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bwana
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Unread postby bwana » Mon Mar 28, 2005 4:31 pm

I've also got one of a giraffe that is very, very dark. Maybe genetic's. The reticulated giraffe which is found more north in Africa has a redder/brown, very distinct pattern - but that is a seperate sub species.

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wildjohn
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giraffes

Unread postby wildjohn » Mon Mar 28, 2005 5:02 pm

That second one has distinct jagged edges. I would guess genetics as suggested ? Think most southern african ones are more like the first picture.

wj

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kwenga
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Unread postby kwenga » Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:31 pm

both pictures taken at KNP, actually the precise question would be: is this a subspecies of its own (maybe introduced someday from another area) or do they just show different patterns now and then, even in the same herd?

wildjohn
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giraffes

Unread postby wildjohn » Tue Mar 29, 2005 8:48 am

In Kruger, no subspecies other than what can be called southern giraffe, when referring to all East African varieties. There would be local variations in all populations, just like the king cheetah is in the cheetah population.

I am not aware to date of any other subspecies of giraffe in sa, know Namibian ones are lighter.

regards,
wj

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Unread postby Krokodile » Tue Mar 29, 2005 7:30 pm

I'm reading "Wild Life in South Africa" written by James Stevenson-Hamilton in 1947 and he says the following:

"Dr Johnson's definition of the giraffe as "an Abyssinian animal, taller than the elephant, but not so thick", requires considerable amplification at the present day, when scientists have not only divided the genus into two distinct species Giraffa camelopardalis and Giraffa reticulata (the Somaliland form, but have classed the first of these into no less than ten sub-species or varieties, something after the manner adopted with the Burchell Zebra. The gradation of type is manifested in the changing nature of the blotches on the skin, which vary from an irregular network of light markings imposed on a chestnut field in the northern or typical race, to the deep chocolate patches on fawn-coloured background, characteristic of bulls of the Cape race"

I understand that a number of species of animals have been either introduced or re-inforced in numbers in the park. Might this have been the case with the Giraffe?

wildjohn
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giraffe reintroductions

Unread postby wildjohn » Tue Mar 29, 2005 7:39 pm

I dont think that there have been any giraffe reintroductions into Kruger during their history involving intervention of that sorts. Kruger admin will be able to verify this.

Whatever variation that is seen in Kruger itself is probably manifest in situ

wj.

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wildtuinman
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Unread postby wildtuinman » Thu Jun 09, 2005 5:48 am

I too have seen a couple of giraffes with lumps on the side of their shoulders as so so speak.
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Unread postby WestCoaster » Thu Jun 09, 2005 7:39 am

I assume the animal was an old specimen.
I've seen this before a few times.
On investigation with our wildlife expert and vet, I discovered that a giraffe's diet comprises young shoots at the tips of branches, and so, as a matter of logistics, chew the branch, twigs and thorns upon which the young shoots are fastened.
This results in the wearing away of their molars.
The giraffe who survives predator attacks and bullets, to make it to old age, usually dies as a result of being badly out of condition due to severe ulcerations in the mouth, caused by broken and eroded tooth stumps that are no longer able to crush the foods to the point where the stomach can extract the goodness. Ultimately, death will come fairly quickly in the form of a combination of starvation, inability to swallow due to ulceration of the teeth, gums, throat and jaw, parasitic attacks (internal and external), general debilitation and weakness which robs them of the strength to get themselves up after a fall, mud bath or wallow, cancerous tumours, injuries that will not heal, internal organ failure and generalized infections and inflammations.
Yes, lymph glands might be affected too.
There are various lymph glands scattered all around the body, as is the case in all mammals.

Krokodile, your giraffe's injury looks like an old infected wound that is still festering, probably caused by a predator's tooth or claw, judging from it's position on the back of the left leg.
Notice the three parallel claw marks on the outside of the right leg just below the knee in the bottom picture, which is typical of a lion attack (you might have to save the pic to your C: drive and enlarge it to see this). Due to the obvious lengthy duration of the infection indicated by the necrotic tissue around the wound, the chances of such an injury healing itself now are remote, and the animal will most likely succumb as the infection travels around in the blood.
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Tabs
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Unread postby Tabs » Thu Jun 09, 2005 11:48 pm

Krokodile wrote:Thanks for your opinions. I'll also go along with the old injury but not infected anymore. If it was, I'm sure we would have observed a limp or something, but the giraffe moved just like any other healthy giraffe!

What looked so odd was that the skin seemed to go under as well as around the growth. Incidentally, it was not a very big giraffe - not sure it was even full grown.


The leg is pretty badly swollen around and above the 'growth' - surely that is normally a sign of serious infection?
The giraffe may not 'limp' if you think about the slow and sedentary way that they move normally - but what if it was startled???
I don't actually think it is a growth myself, I believe that it is the result of a serious injury and is a 'swelling'
It would be interesting to find out the truth of this though!

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Re: Giraffe Deformity

Unread postby Tabs » Mon Jun 13, 2005 9:29 pm

Krokodile wrote:Near Shingwedzi on the S50 in May, we came upon a giraffe with a strange looking deformity to its back leg.



Krokodile - I posted your pics on the Wildlifecampus Yahoo group and got this reply from one member:

A while ago I saw a similar looking growth on the rump of a giraffe, and when I got back I described it to a ranger. He said it sounded like a cancerous growth, that although rare, giraffes sometimes get. This one looks similar, so maybe that's what it is.

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Unread postby Krokodile » Mon Jun 13, 2005 9:54 pm

Cheers for that, Tabs

I'm not convinced. I'm no vet, but it looks like a strange part of the body to have a cancerous growth. I personally think that it's more likely to be a badly healed injury, but would love to hear the opinion of a vet.

The other pictures look like a bad case of warts! Maybe some kind of blood-borne parasite?


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