Reticulated giraffes inhabit the open woodlands and dry savannas of northeastern Kenya. Their diet includes leaves, vines and shoots. They have an average life span of 10 to 15 years in the wild and 20 to 25 years in captivity.
Reticulated giraffes have large brown or brownish-orange polygonal patterns on their coats, with white fur in between. This coat pattern is the most distinctive of all giraffe subspecies and provides camouflage. Reticulated giraffes have long necks, tongues and legs, along with two bony, fur-covered horns on their heads. Adults measure between 14 and 19 feet in height and weigh between 1,750 and 2,800 pounds.
Reticulated giraffes breed between May and August. Females undergo a gestation period of roughly 457 days before giving birth to one calf. In rare cases, twins are born. Female giraffes stand up while giving birth, and their calves are able to stand and run shortly after they are born. Calves spend their first week hidden most of the time and then join other calves in the herd. Female herd members take turns protecting the calves while the other females wander in search of food.
Reticulated giraffes typically live in herds of 10 to 20 individuals, although larger herds sometimes form. They communicate through infrasonic sound, which humans are unable to hear. They also snore, hiss, bellow and grunt at times. Reticulated giraffes have excellent vision, which helps them spot predators that are far away. They are mainly active in the morning and evening and spend their nights resting while standing up.
Reticulated giraffes were once found in southern Ethiopia and southern Somalia. They are now found only in northeastern Kenya and in zoos worldwide.
The giraffe species has a status of least concern, although the reticulated giraffe subspecies has experienced a steep population decline. Estimates show that its numbers have gone from roughly 28,000 in the late 1990s to fewer than 5,000 in recent years. The main threats to this subspecies are habitat loss and poaching. More information about the reticulated giraffe is needed in order to create effective conservation efforts.
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