World giraffe Day logoGiraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis)

Shona: furiramedenga/twiza

Ndebele: intundla/idlulamithi

Since opening the shop I have discovered how many customers just love giraffes (thankfully for us!) and so here is a little information about them:

  • Giraffes are the tallest of all land mammals with males standing up to 5 metres high.  The females are smaller and lighter in colour.  Their markings consist of irregular shaped brown patches separated by tawny lines.  Both sexes have horns.
  • Giraffes are gregarious animals, occuring in small herds; old bulls are often solitary.  
  • They feed during the day and drink regularly but are known to live for months in waterless areas..  They browse on the shoots and twigs of certain trees, particularly acacia species, but occasionally graze.  They have keen eyesight and good hearing and sense of smell.  A popular belief is that giraffe are mute.  They do, in fact, have vocal chords and, whether or not connected with these, utter a variety of noises including snorts, grunts and a mooing sound.  The males "joust" by banging their heads against each other's shoulders and chest, often for long periods. Fortunately their heads are fortified by extra layers of bone.  They kick powerfully in defence.  In flight they are incredibly graceful and a delight to watch.  Lions are their main predators.
  • A single young is born after a gestation period of about 15 months and breeding takes place throughout the year.  The lifespan is about 20 years.
  • As well as in Zimbabwe they are found from the eastern Transvaal in South Africa northwards through East Africa to Sudan and Ethiopia and west to Senegal.  They also occur in Botswana, Namibia and Angola.

Taken from the Bundu Series "Wild Mammals", Dale Kenmuir and Russell Williams, published by Longman Zimbabwe 

World Giraffe Day Logo          And did you know that 21st June 2014 will be the very first World Giraffe Day? A day to celebrate the tallest mammal on Earth!  It's the longest day in the northern hemisphere so it seems appropriate to celebrate the tallest animal on that day!

The giraffe has always been one of the world's most fascinating creatures and used to be found in abundance across Africa.  By 1999 IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) estimated the total number of giraffe to exceed 140000 which was then considered a sustainable number.  But within a decade, the popluation has dropped significantly and is still dropping due to habitiat loss and poaching amongst other causes (road accidents being one).  Recent studies indicate the population has dropped to below 80000 across all (sub) species.