Northern giraffe
Rothschild
in Murchison Falls National Park
CITES Appendix II (CITES)[1]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Giraffidae
Genus: Giraffa
Species:
G. camelopardalis
Binomial name
Giraffa camelopardalis
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The northern giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), also known as three-horned giraffe,[2] is the type species of giraffe, G. camelopardalis, and is native to North Africa, although alternative taxonomic hypotheses have proposed the northern giraffe as a separate species.[3][1]

Once abundant throughout Africa since the 19th century, Northern giraffes ranged from Senegal, Mali and Nigeria from West Africa to up north in Egypt. [4] The similar West African giraffes lived in Algeria and Morocco in ancient periods until their extinctions due to the Saharan dry climate.[5][6][4]

Giraffes collectively are considered Vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN),[1] with around 97,000 wild individuals alive in 2016, [1] of which 5,195 are Northern giraffes.

Taxonomy and evolution

The current IUCN taxonomic scheme lists one species of giraffe with the name G. camelopardalis and nine subspecies.[1][7] A 2021 whole genome sequencing study suggests the northern giraffe as a separate species, and postulates the existence of three distinct subspecies.[8]

Image Subspecies Description Distribution
Zoo de Vincennes, Paris, France April 2014 (7), crop.jpg
Kordofan giraffe (G. c. antiquorum) Its spots may be found below the hocks and the insides of the legs. A median lump is present in males. Southern Chad, the Central African Republic, northern Cameroon, and the northeastern DR Congo.
Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis (Al Ain Zoo, UAE), crop & flip.jpg
Nubian giraffe (G. c. camelopardalis) It has sharply defined chestnut-coloured spots surrounded by mostly white lines, while undersides lack spotting. Includes the Rothschild's giraffe ecotype Eastern South Sudan and southwestern Ethiopia, in addition to Kenya and Uganda.
Giraffe Retouch.jpg
West African giraffe (G. c. peralta) This animal has a lighter pelage than other subspecies, with red lobe-shaped blotches that reach below the hocks. Southwestern Niger

Description

Skull of a northern giraffe, that demonstrates the ossicones on their foreheads
Skull of a northern giraffe, that demonstrates the ossicones on their foreheads

Often mistaken with the Southern Giraffes, Northern giraffe's are differentiated by their distinctive two horn-like protuberances known as ossicones on their foreheads, which are longer and larger than those of southern giraffes'. Bull Northern giraffes have a third cylindrical ossicone in the center of the head just above the eyes, which is from 3 to 5 inches long.[2]

Distribution and habitat

Northern giraffes live in savannahs, shrublands, and woodlands. After numerous local extinctions, Northern giraffes are the least numerous giraffe species, and the most endangered. In East Africa, they are mostly found in Kenya and southwestern Ethiopia, though rarely in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan. There are about 2,000 in the Central African Republic, Chad and Cameroon of Central Africa. Once widespread in West Africa, a few hundred Northern giraffes are confined in the Dosso Reserve of Kouré, Niger. It is isolated in South Sudan, Kenya, Chad and Niger. They commonly live both in and outside of protected areas.[1]

The earliest ranges of the Northern giraffes were in Chad during the late Pliocene. Once abundant in North Africa, they lived in Algeria since early Pleistocene during the Quaternary period. They lived in Morocco, Libya and Egypt until their extinction around the year AD 600, as the dry climate of the Sahara made conditions impossible for giraffes. Though their remenant's; bones and fossils, have been found across these countries.[5][6]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Muller, Z.; Bercovitch, F.; Brand, R.; Brown, D.; Brown, M.; Bolger, D.; Carter, K.; Deacon, F.; Doherty, J.B.; Fennessy, J.; Fennessy, S.; Hussein, A.A.; Lee, D.; Marais, A.; Strauss, M.; Tutchings, A.; Wube, T. (2018) [amended version of 2016 assessment]. "Giraffa camelopardalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T9194A136266699. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T9194A136266699.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b Linnaeus, C. (1758). The Nubian or Three-horned giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis). Existing Forms of Giraffe (February 16, 1897): 14.
  3. ^ Petzold, Alice; Hassanin, Alexandre (2020-02-13). "A comparative approach for species delimitation based on multiple methods of multi-locus DNA sequence analysis: A case study of the genus Giraffa (Mammalia, Cetartiodactyla)". PLOS ONE. 15 (2): e0217956. Bibcode:2020PLoSO..1517956P. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0217956. PMC 7018015. PMID 32053589.
  4. ^ a b Hassanin, Alexandre; Ropiquet, Anne; Gourmand, Anne-Laure; Chardonnet, Bertrand; Rigoulet, Jacques (2007). "Mitochondrial DNA variability in Giraffa camelopardalis: consequences for taxonomy, phylogeography and conservation of giraffes in West and central Africa". Comptes Rendus Biologies. 330 (3): 265–274. doi:10.1016/j.crvi.2007.02.008. PMID 17434121.
  5. ^ a b Anne Innis Dagg (23 January 2014). Giraffe: Biology, Behaviour and Conservation. Cambridge University Press. p. 5. ISBN 9781107729445. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b Fred Wendorf; Romuald Schild (11 November 2013). Holocene Settlement of the Egyptian Sahara: Volume 1: The Archaeology of Nabta Playa. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 622. ISBN 9781461506539. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  7. ^ Bercovitch, Fred B.; Berry, Philip S. M.; Dagg, Anne; Deacon, Francois; Doherty, John B.; Lee, Derek E.; Mineur, Frédéric; Muller, Zoe; Ogden, Rob (2017-02-20). "How many species of giraffe are there?". Current Biology. 27 (4): R136–R137. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.039. PMID 28222287.
  8. ^ Coimbra, Raphael T.F.; Winter, Sven; Kumar, Vikas; Koepfli, Klaus-Peter; Gooley, Rebecca M.; Dobrynin, Pavel; Fennessy, Julian; Janke, Axel (2021). "Whole-genome analysis of giraffe supports four distinct species". Current Biology. 31 (13): 2929–2938.e5. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2021.04.033. PMID 33957077.