Northern giraffe

Northern giraffe
A West African giraffe (G. camelopardalis peralta).
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Giraffidae
Genus: Giraffa
Species: G. camelopardalis
Binomial name
Giraffa camelopardalis
(Linnaeus, 1758)

3, see text

Range map of extant Giraffa divided by species, subspecies and distinct population groups.

The northern giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is a species of giraffe, and is considered the type species of the genus.[2] Whilst three other giraffe species were once considered subspecies of the conglomerate Giraffa camelopardalis species, recent studies have identified the northern giraffe as one of the four separate species of a reorganised Giraffa genus.[1][2] This species is composed of three subspecies: the Nubian giraffe (G. c. camelopardalis), Kordofan giraffe (G.c antiquorom) and West African giraffe (G.c. peralta). Around 4,550 individuals from all subspecies are currently present in the wild.[3]


Three subspecies of northern giraffes are recognised. A former subspecies are also included- Rothschild's giraffe was once considered its own subspecies, but after recent genetic analysis, it has been deemed conspecific with the Nubian giraffe.[3]

Subspecies of Northern giraffe
Subspecies Description Image
Nubian giraffe, (G. c. camelopardalis)[4] The nominate subspecies of the Northern giraffe, is found in eastern South Sudan and south-western Ethiopia.[2] It has sharply defined chestnut-coloured spots surrounded by mostly white lines, while undersides lack spotting. The median lump is particularly developed in the male.[5]:51 Around 2,150 are thought to remain in the wild, of which 1,500 are of the Rothschild ecotype.[3] It is one of the most common types of giraffe in captivity, although the original phenotype is rare- a group is kept at Al Ain Zoo in the United Arab Emirates.[6] In 2003, this group numbered 14.[7]
Kordofan giraffe (G. c. antiquorum) The Kordofan giraffe is a subspecies of the Northern giraffe (G. cameleopardis) and has a population of 2,000 in a distribution which includes southern Chad, the Central African Republic, northern Cameroon, and north-eastern DR Congo.[3] Populations in Cameroon were formerly included in G. c. peralta, but this was incorrect.[8] Compared to the Nubian giraffe, this subspecies has smaller and more irregular spotting patterns. Its spots may be found below the hocks and the insides of the legs. A median lump is present in males.[5]:51–52 Considerable confusion has existed over the status of this subspecies and G. c. peralta in zoos. In 2007, all alleged G. c. peralta in European zoos were shown to be, in fact, G. c. antiquorum.[8] With this correction, about 65 are kept in zoos.[9] The formerly recognised subspecies G. c. congoesis is now considered part of Kordofan subspecies.
Rothschild's giraffe ("G. c. rothschildi", after Walter Rothschild),[4] also known as Baringo giraffe or Ugandan giraffe The Rothschild's giraffe is a former subspecies of the conglomerate Giraffa species, but it is now considered an ecotype of the Northern giraffe (Giraffa camleopardis). Its range includes parts of Uganda and Kenya.[1] Its presence in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo is uncertain.[10] This giraffe has large dark patches that usually have complete margins, but may also have sharp edges. The dark spots may also have paler radiating lines or streaks within them. Spotting does not often reach below the hocks and almost never to the hooves. This ecotype may also develop five "horns".[5]:53 Around 1500 are believed to remain in the wild,[3] and more than 450 are kept in zoos.[9] According to genetic analysis circa September 2016, it is conspecific with the Nubian giraffe (G. c. camelopardalis).[3]
The West African giraffe (G. c. peralta),[4] also known as Niger giraffe or Nigerian giraffe[11] The West African giraffe is a subspecies of the Northern giraffe (G. cameleopardis) endemic to south-western Niger.[1] This animal has a lighter pelage than other subspecies,[12]:322 with red lobe-shaped blotches that reach below the hocks. The ossicones are more erect than in other subspecies and males have well-developed median lumps.[5]:52–53 It is the most endangered subspecies with fewer than 400 individuals remaining in the wild.[3] Giraffes in Cameroon were formerly believed to belong to this subspecies, but are actually G. c. antiquorum.[8] This error resulted in some confusion over its status in zoos, but in 2007, it was established that all "G. c. peralta" kept in European zoos actually are G. c. antiquorum.[8]


  1. 1 2 3 Fennessy, J.; Brown, D. (2010). "Giraffa camelopardalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  2. 1 2 "Giraffe – The Facts: Current giraffe status?". Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  4. 1 2 3 Pellow, R. A. (2001). "Giraffe and Okapi". In MacDonald, D. The Encyclopedia of Mammals (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 520–27. ISBN 0-7607-1969-1.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Seymour, R. (2002) The taxonomic status of the giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis (L. 1758), PH.D Thesis
  6. "Exhibits". Al Ain Zoo. 25 February 2003. Archived from the original on 2011-11-29. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  7. "Nubian giraffe born in Al Ain zoo". UAE Interact. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Hassanin, A.; Ropiquet, A.; Gourmand, B-L.; Chardonnet, B.; Rigoulet, J. (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): 173–83. doi:10.1016/j.crvi.2007.02.008. PMID 17434121.
  9. 1 2 "Giraffa". ISIS. 2010. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  10. Fennessy, J. & Brenneman, R. (2010). "Giraffa camelopardalis ssp. rothschildi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  11. Fennessy, J.; Brown, D. (2008). "Giraffa camelopardalis ssp. peralta". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  12. Kingdon, J. (1988). East African Mammals: An Atlas of Evolution in Africa, Volume 3, Part B: Large Mammals. University Of Chicago Press. pp. 313–37. ISBN 0-226-43722-1.

External links

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