Male or female Masai giraffe, scientific name Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchii, has two unique, hair-covered horns named ossicones. The other name of this species is the Kilimanjaro Giraffe which is the largest subspecies of nine subspecies of the giraffe family. The International Union for Nature (IUCN) announced that the Masai giraffe spread across Kenya and Tanzania, is now significantly endangered by hunting, predators, poaching, lack of food, and land changes.
Exploring the Whereabouts of Giraffes
When it comes to giraffes, their canvas of existence spans a multitude of African countries. Thriving in diverse environments, they favor the embrace of savannahs, grasslands, and expansive woodlands. If you yearn to witness giraffes in their full splendor, you’ll want to venture to countries like Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana. These nations are renowned for their rich wildlife, and the national parks and wildlife reserves within their borders offer prime opportunities for giraffe encounters.
Giraffes in the Masai Mara
Indeed, the iconic Masai giraffes find their home in the Masai Mara National Reserve, nestled within the captivating landscapes of Kenya. This renowned reserve is not only a sanctuary for a diverse array of wildlife but also a haven for Masai giraffes. Visitors embarking on an adventure to the Masai Mara are bestowed with the privilege of observing these majestic animals flourishing in their natural habitat.
Tanzania’s Giraffe Abundance
Tanzania deserves a notable mention when it comes to giraffe populations in Africa. It often garners recognition for hosting one of the most substantial giraffe populations across the continent. The country’s expansive and varied terrains provide an ideal sanctuary for a myriad of giraffe species, including the distinguished Masai giraffe.
A Glimpse of Giraffe Abundance in Zoos
Shifting our gaze to zoo settings, it’s worth mentioning that as of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in California, USA, was renowned for its substantial giraffe population. However, it’s important to note that zoo populations can change over time. To obtain the most current figures and details regarding giraffe populations in zoos, it’s advisable to consult the latest information provided by the respective zoological institutions.
The Masai Giraffe’s Population Status
The numbers of Masai giraffes in the wild exhibit fluctuations over time, influenced by factors like conservation initiatives and habitat safeguarding. As of my last update in 2021, an estimated population of approximately 35,000 Masai giraffes roamed their natural habitats. Conservation organizations diligently monitor and protect these populations to ensure their continued existence.
Masai Giraffe profile
In this article, I will discuss the Masai giraffe profile.
Masai giraffe lives all over Africa, however, losing habitats and forests, they are mostly found only in Savannah Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Tanzania.
The Masai giraffe is the largest-bodied giraffe species, known as the longest land animal on earth. Masai giraffes can be distinguished from reticulated giraffes because they have stained spots instead of pigmented spots in the polygonal liver of the whole body. The size of males and females is not the same. The male is larger than the female in weight, height, and size. Male Masai giraffe grows up to 19 feet (5.5 meters) and females to 16 feet (4.8 meters) high.
The weight of males is 2475 – 4275 pounds (1100 – 1900 kilograms) whereas the female is 1575 – 2700 pounds (700 – 1200 kg). The tongue of the Masai giraffe is very long in order that they can pull the tree and eat its leaves at a longer distance.
Masai Giraffe has a small hump on its back and has a spotted pattern similar to that of a leopard. Of this similar of body coat, people called the giraffe a “camel-leopard” because they believed that it was a combination of the leopard, though they are a notorious enemy of the giraffe.
Masai giraffe’s tongue is 18 inches in length and their lips are long and sticky. Masai giraffes can sprint up to 35 miles per hour, though it’s not enough to supersede faster predators like a cheetah. The female is more beautiful than the male. A female Masai giraffe has thick head hair, however, a male Masai giraffe is bald on top.
Both male and female Masai giraffes have skin-covered horns called ossicones. Masai Giraffes have the usual long legs and a long neck with special valves used to control the flow of blood to the whole body. The eyes of the giraffe are the size of golf balls and can look for a long. The feet of the Masai giraffe are the size of a dinner plate, around 12 inches in diameter.
Masai giraffe is a calm, cool, and timid mammal. In most cases, they are not aggressive. The only aggression they show is when they are feared or fight with another giraffe in order to keep control over the territory. Masai giraffe does not sleep most of the time. They only need 5 – 30 minutes of sleep every day. Sometimes they have some naps, that last only a minute or two at a time in the jungle.
The Masai Giraffes can moo, hiss, roar, and whistle to express their emotion and communicate in need. They are social mammals. Most of the time the Masai Giraffes take a rest stand on foot, however, they also lie down with their head resting on their rump sometimes.
Characteristics of Masai Giraffe
The head of a female Masai giraffe is thicker, but the male Masai giraffe stays on top. Both male and female. Masai giraffes have wrinkled horns on the skin Ossicons called Masai giraffe’s head is used with a common long leg and a long neck special valve used to control blood flow.
The Masai giraffes coat is iridescent in irregular star-shaped patches and the calf is below the knee. Like all giraffes, coat stains act like human fingerprints, no two patterns are the same, and they can be used to identify a person.
In fact, different coat patterns in every species distinguish each subspecies primarily from one another. Masai giraffe coat is covered in irregular star-shaped patches and is buff-colored below the knee. As with all giraffes, the spots on the coating act like human fingerprints, no two patterns are the same and they can be used to identify an individual.
The pattern of the Masai giraffes looks like oak leaves, a traditional Kenyan pattern.
Masai giraffe diet
Masai giraffes are daily and in small groups. Masai giraffes eat almost all day long, about 16 – 20 hours a day. A Masia Giraffe can feed up to 75 lb of leaves every day. They browse a long way and take in large quantities of leaves, grass, sprouts, trees like acacia and babla, flowers, fruits, and bark.
Masai giraffe usually feeds on shriveled thorny shrubs to reach the middle of the thorns to lift leaves using long lips and thighs. The Masai giraffe has a four-chambered stomach and can chew on its own. If fresh plants are available in abundance, they can extract it from their diet without water for several weeks.
Male Masai giraffes eat from the upper branches, and females from the lower branches, considering the height of the neck.
Masai giraffe breeding
In order to continue the generation, the Masai giraffe undergoes reproduction. There is no seasonal breeding season for giraffes. Females mature earlier than males, females mature during 3 – 4 years of age, whereas the age of males maturity is 4 – 5 years. The gestation period is 15 months.
The number of young at birth is usually one, twins are uncommon but do occur in some cases. About 50 to 75% of calves die due to predators in their first few months. A single calf is born after a gestation period of 14 – 15 months. The calf is 6 feet tall at birth and grows rapidly. In the first month of its life, she lives with her mother.
After this time it will join a group of calves and a ‘baby’ cow will look after it. The calf will be in this nursery for one year. Masai giraffes have a life expectancy of 25 to 30 years in human care. The lifespan is comparatively low in the wild due to the predators’ attack, it’s 12-15 years.
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Masai Giraffe Predators
Among the predators and enemies of the Masai Giraffe, we many named lions, hyenas, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs. Their only defense is their speed and their powerful kick which can obliterate the Lion and, in some cases, shatter it.
How many Masai giraffes are there?
According to the study, currently, there are as many as 35,000 Masai giraffes left in the wild. The most alarming statistic is that the number of Masai Giraffe population has declined by approximately 50 % during the last 3 decades. Over the same time frame, Africa’s overall giraffe population has dropped by 40 percent.
Giraffe hunting is illegal in both Kenya and Tanzania, but they are exposed to their hide, flesh, bones, and tail. The IUCN says an estimated 2 to 10 percent of people are illegally hunted each year at Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Citizens’ instability for parts of the giraffe, including tail-hair jewelry and bone engraving, has increased.
As a common belief, some people explore bone marrow and the brain in order to cure HIV and AIDS, according to the Tanzanian media. Giraffe deaths have also increased as human populations have grown and expanded as wildlife, leading to increased crop loss and vehicular injury. Hunting for bushmeat is also a threat to the giraffe’s growth.
Masai giraffes are considered endangered by the ISECN and Masai giraffe populations have declined in recent decades due to poaching and declining habitat. Studies of populations living in and out of protected areas of the wild giraffe prove that predation is the primary effect of lower survival of older adults outside protected areas and of lower calf survival in protected areas due to predation.
The survival of the giraffe calves is influenced by the season of birth and the absence of seasonal local presence or the absence of long-distance migratory animals in the wild beast and zebra.
Difference Between Masai & Reticulated Giraffes
One of the most striking disparities between Masai and reticulated giraffes is their imposing stature. Among the multitude of giraffe subspecies, Masai giraffes ascend as the towering titans of the savanna, a distinction acknowledged by the Pittsburgh Zoo. It’s the male Masai giraffes who claim the sky, often reaching astonishing heights, their elegant necks soaring to a majestic 18 feet. In contrast, the female counterparts of the Masai realm adopt a more demure stance, their average stature gracefully hovering at around 14 feet.
Turning our gaze to reticulated giraffes, as elucidated by the Sacramento Zoo, we find a subtle departure in the realm of heights. Here, the male members of the reticulated subspecies fall a tad shorter, typically scaling heights between 15 and 17 feet. Yet, in a captivating parallel, the reticulated females mirror the elegant heights of their Masai counterparts, adorning the landscape with their presence at 13 to 15 feet.
While the domains of Masai and reticulated giraffes share a mutual affinity for certain landscapes, significant geographical distinctions are etched into their narratives. Masai giraffes, with stately grace, hail from the eastern realms of Africa. They find their heartlands nestled within the territories of Tanzania and Kenya.
In marked contrast, reticulated giraffes cast their homeland in the embrace of Kenya but extend their reach into the regions of Ethiopia and Somalia. Both subspecies resonate with a shared love for the grandeur of savannas and woodlands. Yet, the reticulated giraffes add a distinctive touch, their presence most pronounced in landscapes adorned with the sporadic grace of acacia trees.
A compelling chapter in the tale of Masai and reticulated giraffes unfolds in the realm of population dynamics. In sheer numbers, Masai giraffes claim a dominant presence, towering above their reticulated counterparts, as confirmed by the authoritative voice of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
The wild expanses echo with the majestic footsteps of up to 40,000 individual Masai giraffes, traversing their natural domains with unfettered grace. In stark contrast, the reticulated giraffes carve a far less populous narrative, their numbers suggesting the existence of no more than 5,000 individuals.
Spots as Survival Tools
Giraffe spots serve a dual purpose, functioning as not only distinctive markers but also as tools for survival. While in captivity, their spots make giraffes easily distinguishable, serving as a treat for zoo-goers. In the wild, however, these spots assume the role of camouflage.
Giraffes primarily inhabit African savannahs, characterized by the interplay of tall grasses and trees that cast dappled shadows upon the land. The random and irregular patterns of their spots cleverly align with the moving shadows, making it arduous for potential predators to identify them.
Despite the shared cream and brown color palette, giraffes exhibit significant chromatic variations dictated by their subspecies. Masai giraffes reign as the darkest among their kind, boasting spots that appear nearly black. Moreover, the interstitial areas between their spots adopt a darker hue in comparison to their giraffe counterparts. In contrast, reticulated giraffes bear dark brown spots adorned with slender lines in between—lines notably narrower than those seen in other subspecies.
This intricate arrangement imparts a web-like effect and contributes to the reticulated giraffes’ darker appearance relative to some of their counterparts. Angolan giraffes, alternatively, earn a description as “smokey” due to their notably light coloration. The cream lines separating their spots assume a shade darker than that of certain other giraffes, rendering them marginally more challenging to distinguish from their spots. These chromatic disparities often mirror the coloration of the local vegetation, thereby enhancing the giraffes’ adaptability to their respective habitats.
In the enchanting world of giraffes, beyond their iconic elongated necks, their distinctive spots represent one of the most prominent features. The spots adorning Masai and reticulated giraffes, however, differ markedly. The Masai giraffes showcase spots of a rather unpredictable nature, cloaked in deep brown hues that bear a striking resemblance to the leaves of mighty oak trees, as detailed by the Nashville Zoo.
These rugged, erratic spots stand in stark contrast to the neat and precise spots adorning reticulated giraffes. These spots, characterized by their slightly lighter brown tones, adopt polygonal shapes, with straight, smooth sides. Such conspicuous distinctions in spotting render the identification of Masai and reticulated giraffes when standing side by side a straightforward task.
Elegance in Patterns
The aesthetic allure of a giraffe’s spots not only distinguishes them from other fauna but also becomes a signature of individuality within their own kin. Each giraffe’s spots, akin to the uniqueness of human fingerprints, enable them to recognize fellow members within their familial circles. In the intricate realm of spot patterns, reticulated giraffes shine as bearers of the most elaborate designs among all giraffe subspecies. However, discerning disparities between species or individuals may challenge the untrained observer, for nature’s artistry often conceals itself in subtlety.
Each subspecies of giraffe possesses its distinct spot pattern style. Within these unique styles, every individual giraffe boasts a pattern as distinct as its own identity. While the precise count of subspecies may remain a subject of debate within the scientific community, a consensus acknowledges the existence of nine distinct possibilities. These encompass the Reticulated, Kordofan, Nubian, Angolan, South African or Cape, Rothschild’s or Ugandan, West African or Nigerian, Thornicroft’s, and Masai giraffes.
Each of these giraffes exhibits patterns instantly recognizable as giraffe spots, yet certain patterns distinguish themselves with particular prominence. For example, Angolan giraffes are characterized by notched indentations within most of their spots. Rothschild’s giraffes stand out with wavy edges adorning their spots and a uniform cream color extending below their knees. Masai giraffes, in contrast, display spots reminiscent of oak leaves, marked by deep, rounded indentations.
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