Masai Giraffe

The Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) can be found in central and southern Kenya and Tanzania. It reaches a height of 5-6 metres (16-19 feet).

It is an ungulate mammal, which means that it is hoofed. It has a long neck of two metres (6.5 feet) with seven vertebrae (bones) and a short mane. It has long thin, but powerful, legs about two metres (6.5) long. They can kick other animals to death, and they can run up to 56 kilometres per hour (35 miles per hour).

They also have long tongues of about 45-51 centimetres (18-20 inches) and big eyes, the size of golf balls. Their tails have a tuft of hair at the end.

It has distinctive, irregular, jagged, brown star-like or leaf-like shapes on cream fur. The shapes occur all the way to the hooves.

As they age, males can develop two calcium deposits in their skulls,  called ossicones, which gives them the appearance of having small horns. They are not horns; they are ossicones that are covered in fur.

Masai giraffe

Masai Giraffe with two ossicones

The Masai Giraffes live in small herds. They move in their territory that can be more than 80 kilometres (50 miles).

Masai giraffe

Masai Giraffes – a male and two females

The Masai Giraffes spend most of the day feeding. They are browsers and can spend 16-20 hours eating every day eating. They eat the leaves of the thorny acacia trees, as well as twigs, fruits, and flowers.

They sleep for only short periods at a time.

Male Masai Giraffes fight for dominance by hitting their necks around each other. This is called necking.

Masai giraffe

Masai Giraffe necking

Females are pregnant for about 14-15 months before giving birth to a baby, called a calf. The calf is about 1.8 metres (6 feet) tall at birth and can walk almost straight away.

They can live for 10-15 years in the wild.

The Masai Giraffe is related to the okapi.

Masai giraffe

Masai Giraffe – their markings continue to their hooves



Photographer: Martina Nicolls




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