7 things you didn’t know about giraffes

You know they’re the tallest mammal on earth, but did you know they are disappearing faster than elephants in Africa? Read on for more important giraffe facts

5 mins

1. Despite having such a long neck, giraffes actually only have 7 elongated vertebrae – the same number as humans.


2. The worlds oldest recorded wild giraffe is known as 'Chopper' and is at least 20 years old. He lives in the Hoanib River basin in far North Western Namibia, next to the Skeleton Coast. 

3. Giraffes sleep lying down with their heads curled onto their backs at night like swans. They even seem to take it in turns to keep watch.


4. New DNA evidence has revealed that there could be up to five species of giraffe, rather than one, as previously thought.


5. Having said that, giraffes are in serious trouble. Numbers have dropped by almost 40% in the last 15 years and there are just 90,000 left. (Compared to 450-500,000 African elephants.) They have already disappeared from seven African countries.


6. The biggest population of endangered Rothschild’s giraffes (85%) lives in Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. The ground beneath them contains over 75% of Uganda’s discovered oil, and drilling plans are underway.


7. Efforts are underway to create a ‘Giraffe Ark’ for them on the south side of the Nile River. Because of their 'extreme' biology, moving a giraffe is problematic. Experts are working together to ensure they are safe through darting, capture and transport.


For more information on what is being done to save these magnificent creatures – and what you can do to help – visit the Giraffe Conservation Foundation website. 

Giraffes: Africa’s Gentle Giants, a programme about the Foundation’s activities, narrated by Sir David Attenborough will be broadcast at 8 pm on June 23, 2016 on BBC2.


Main image: A curious reticulated giraffe (Shutterstock.com)

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