West African or Niger Giraffe
Scientific Name: Giraffa camelopardalis peralta
All about Giraffes
West African Giraffe Description
Not all giraffes out there are the same, and one species of them is the West African. They are very tall – ranging from 16 feet to 19 feet with the females on the shorter end and the males on the larger side. The adult males can weigh about 2,800 pounds and the females about 2,000 pounds.
The females and the males both have horns on the top of their heads. They don’t grow very long but you will be able to tell they are in place nonetheless. The males have longer horns and they are bald. The females do have hair on theirs and they are much thinner and shorter. If you are ever trying to distinguish if a West African Giraffe is male or female this information will help you to figure it out in no time at all.
The coloring for these giraffes is absolutely amazing. Even within a herd you will see many different colorings. Some have very light brown and others are very dark. The males tend to have darker coloring than the females. They also tend to get increasingly dark as they age. When you see one that had black coloring then you will know is it up there in years.
West African Giraffe Anatomy
The most fascinating feature that everyone things of for the giraffe is their long neck. It can be longer than the overall height of a human. It can also weigh more than 500 pounds. This is a very complex part of their body, with valves inside of it so that blood wont’ flood the brain when they bend down for water, to eat, or to check on their young.
What is really neat too is that they have two different movements with their legs. Are you aware that when they are walking at a normal pace the two legs on the right move at the same time and then the two legs on the left side move at the same time? Yet when they are running they move the two front legs and then the two back legs. This shows how versatile their anatomy is for them to be able to survive in a variety of situations.
When you look closely as the body of the West African Giraffe, you will notice that they have short hairs all over it. This helps to keep their body temperature regulated. They are able to lose heat quickly though which is why they can do well in hot areas of Africa and still not need too much water to consume. They are also able to run up to 35 miles per out there when they feel they are in danger.
They often rely on more than speed though to help them when signs of danger are around. They have very good vision so they can see for miles around them. That combined with their hearing and smelling allows them to often taken action fast and before the danger can get too close to them.
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West African Giraffe Evolution
While we do know plenty about the West African Giraffe today, there is plenty we would love to learn about their past. It is believed they have been on Earth for millions of years Yet in their early forms they were very different from what we known them as today. They may have had a neck that was considerably shorter than it is now.
There are lots of ideas out there about how these spectacular animals evolved. If that is an area that fascinates you, then I encourage you to go out there and explore the different theories. As you read such information can even formulate your own ideas about what occurred for them in the past.
West African Giraffe Behavior
The herd size for the West African Giraffe is about 15 members but can be slightly larger or smaller. They are very involved with socialization for their herd, and the females seem to desire it much more than the males. They use non-verbal communication including rubbing necks to show affection. They also make moans and snorts that are used to tell each other things. This can be friendly, aggressive in nature, and even to tell about possible threats to be aware of.
The fact that so many other types of plant eating animals are happy to be around the giraffes is very interesting. Experts believe they use the giraffes as a type of radar for them. to stay safe. They are well aware that the these animals have the advantage of height when it comes to identifying possible danger out there.
West African Giraffe Habitat and Distribution
Due to their name, you already know that these giraffes are found around West Africa. The majority of them are in Nigeria so sometimes you will hear them also called the Nigerian Giraffes. Some people assume this is another species but it isn’t – they are one and the same.
Other places out there where they can be found include Mali, Sudan, and Chad. They are able to survive well on the plains, in the desert of the Savannah, and even in some lightly forested areas. They need to be able to find plenty of food though and to have access to water occasionally. They have a home range that can span up to 50 square miles that they move around for grazing purposes.
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West African Giraffe Diet and Feeding Habits
For more than 16 hours each day these animals will spend their time eating plants, leaves, twigs, and bark off the trees. They continue to move before they completely wipe any given area out of food. This is a way for them to know they can come back later and be able to have rich vegetation there once again.
The fact that these giraffes can also consume foods that are very thick and pokey used to be a mystery. However, we are now aware that they have thicker tongues and lips than other animals. That means the sharpness of these foods doesn’t bother them at all. It also gives them foods such as acacia that other animals have to pass over. During the rainy season they can go without water for about three weeks. In the dry season they do need a bit of it every three days or so.
West African Giraffe Reproduction
Reproduction can take place any time of the year for these giraffes. The females often engage in it about 5 years of age. While the males are ready then, they have to wait until they are able to show they are stronger than other males. This is proven though rituals of battling with their heavy necks.
After mating the females will give birth to a very large baby about 15 months down the road. Did you know that these young can weigh about 150 pounds and they are about 6 feet tall? That is larger than most humans when they are fully grown! The entire herd of females will do all they can to nurture and protect these young additions. For the first year they will feed only from the milk that their mothers offer.
Giraffe Reserve in Dosso, Niger
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West African Giraffe Predators
There are several predators for this giraffe to worry about. They include lions, wild hogs, and leopards. They primarily though will go after the young ones because they are large enough for a meal but not as powerful. It is well known that the kicks from the adult West African Giraffes can be fatal.