The Masai Giraffe, also called Kilimanjaro Giraffe, is the largest subspecies of giraffe family. Native to East Africa, Masai Giraffe has unusual characteristics that make them look different from other giraffe species. The Masai Giraffe is also known for being the highest terrestrial animal in the world.
Let’s find out some more information about the largest subspecies of giraffe.
Species: G. Camelopardalis tippelskirchii
Binomial name: Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchii
Body: Each subspecies of the giraffe has a different coat pattern and so as Masai giraffe. They have a small hump on their back and feature spotted pattern, similar to that of a leopard. Their thick hair covered horns, stretching to a length of 5 inches, are called ossicones. Their body color varies from brown to rich chestnut.
The Masai Giraffes are specifically found near savannas and open woodlands. They do not prefer closed canopy forests. Like camels, they can survive for a long period without water. Thus, they live in semi-desert regions where they get water from foods. To get a drink, they splay their forelegs.
Native to East Africa, Masai Giraffes are also found in the southern parts of Kenya and Tanzania.
Masai Giraffes feed 15-20 hours a day. They are mostly seen eating grass, leaves, sprouts, flowers, fruits, and barks. These giraffes are smart enough to reach between the thorns of acacia trees to extract leaves.
Their long lips and tongue help them do so effortlessly. Masai giraffes have a four-chambered stomach. They can go without water for weeks if fresh vegetation is available. Male giraffes eat from the top branches while female from the bottom branches.
Check out their behavioural traits;
Masai giraffes reach the stage of sexual maturity between three and five years of age. There is nothing like any particular mating season for Masai giraffes. They mate throughout the year. Male giraffes start mating after they are seven years old.
The gestation period lasts for only 14 months. During birth, the head of the calf comes out first, followed by front legs and rest of the body. The offspring falls from the mother’s womb. The procedure lasts for two to six hours. The calf is six feet tall during birth and weighs almost 200 pounds. Masai mothers are protective and throw kicks to keep predators away from their calf. The young giraffes consume milk from their mothers for almost one year.
Masai giraffes have a lifespan of 10-15 years in wild and 20-25 years in captive.
Masai giraffes have few predators like lions, crocodiles, hyenas, and leopards. The main threats to this mammal are imposed by humans and loss of habitat.
Like other giraffes, Masai giraffes are considered vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN. Their population is decreasing due to loss of habitat.
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