Giraffa camelopardalis 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Giraffidae

Scientific Name: Giraffa camelopardalis
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Giraffe
French Girafe
Spanish Jirafa
Taxonomic Notes: A number of subspecies classifications have been proposed for Giraffe (Ansell 1972, Dagg and Foster 1982, Kingdon 1997, East 1999, Grubb 2005, Ciofolo and Pendu in press). There is considerable uncertainty surrounding the geographic and taxonomic limits of all described subspecies. Furthermore, recent genetic work suggests that several subspecies may even represent distinct species (Brown et al. 2007). Here, only the forms peralta from West Africa, which recent genetic evidence has confirmed is indeed distinct (Hassanin et al. 2007), and rothschildi are assessed at the subspecies level.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2010-01-27
Assessor(s): Fennessy, J. & Brown, D.
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M. & Mallon, D.
Provisionally listed as Least Concern as the species remains widespread, with a total population numbering more than 100,000 individuals. However, a recent preliminary population estimate suggests a decline in the total population has taken place which, if substantiated, could mean that the species will warrant listing in a higher category of threat. Some populations remain stable or are even increasing, but others are clearly in a more precarious position (and may well be threatened). Ongoing efforts to census the continent's giraffe populations will allow more accurate assessment of the species' overall conservation status, as well as described subspecies in future.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Giraffe formerly occurred in arid and dry-savanna zones of sub-Saharan Africa, wherever trees occur. Today, its range has contracted markedly with the expansion of human populations, especially in West Africa.

In West Africa, Giraffe formerly ranged from Senegal to Lake Chad, but the only viable surviving population within this entire area is a small population in south-western Niger with a range of about 15,000 km² (Boulet et al. 2004). This represents the only surviving wild population of G. c. peralta; a small population observed in the Ansongo-Menaka Partial Faunal Reserve in Mali, on the border of Niger, is presumed to be extinct.

Giraffe are still present in northern Cameroon, southern Chad, Central African Republic and in Garamba National Park in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (East 1999); there is limited information on their occurrence in Sudan, west of the Nile (where they were not recorded at all during the course of recent surveys), but they do still occur in the south-east (in Boma National Park) (Fay et al. 2007). In East and north-east Africa, Giraffe still occur in relatively large numbers in northern Kenya, mainly outside protected areas, in south-western and southern Ethiopia, Somalia, and in small numbers in a few protected areas in Uganda; they are now extinct in Eritrea. Giraffe remain relatively widely distributed through southern Kenya and Tanzania. Of some concern is the status of Rothschild’s Giraffe, for which the only remaining naturally occurring population occurs in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda. Rothschild's Giraffes have been re-introduced to six sites in Kenya (Ruma National Park; Mt Elgon National Park; Murgor Farm, Iten; Sergoit-Kruger Farm, Iten; Kitale Area Farm; Nasalot Reserve) and one site in Uganda (Kidepo Valley National Park) within the native range. Six extralimital introductions have also taken place in Kenya.

There is an isolated population of Giraffe (Thornicroft’s Giraffe G. c. thornicrofti) in the Luangwa Valley (Zambia).

In southern Africa, having been reintroduced to many parts of the range from which they were eliminated, Giraffes are currently common both inside and outside a number of protected areas in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. In Angola, the Giraffe is now assumed to be extinct. A few animals are reported to still survive in Sioma Ngwezi National Park in south-western Zambia, while in Mozambique, a few individuals still occur in the area adjacent to Kruger National Park. Giraffe have been introduced to Swaziland (Giraffe Conservation foundation pers. obs., J. Fennessy pers. obs., Ciofolo and Pendu in press).
Countries occurrence:
Botswana; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Ethiopia; Kenya; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Possibly extinct:
Angola (Angola); Mali; Nigeria
Regionally extinct:
Eritrea; Guinea; Mauritania; Senegal
Rwanda; Swaziland
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:East (1999) estimated the total population at about 140,000 animals, predominantly in areas dominated by Acacia woodlands and shrublands. More recent preliminary estimates put the total population at less than 80,000 animals ( International Giraffe Working Group and Giraffe Conservation Foundation pers. comm.); efforts are currently under way to census the continent’s populations more accurately (Fennessy 2007) which will enable a more thorough determination of the conservation status of the species and subspecies.

The population in Niger estimated to number 79 animals in 1999 (Ciofolo et al. 2000), has since increased to more than 200 animals in 2007 ( J Suraud pers. obs.).

In 1998 there was an estimated population of more than 500 Rothschild’s (and Nubian) giraffe, with the populations from Sudan unknown (East 1999). There were an estimated 2,500 individuals in Murchison Falls National Park in the 1960s, declining sharply to 350 in 1982–1983 and 250 in 1995–1996. The current population in Murchison Falls National Park is estimated to be of 240 individuals and stable. The reintroduced population in Ruma National Park, Kenya, is estimated to be of 130 individuals and is declining due to poaching. Numbers at each of the other five reintroduction sites are of 10-20 individuals and some of these are unlikely to be viable. In sum, Rothschild’s Giraffe is estimated to number less than 470 individuals in Uganda and Kenya, with an unknown (but likely small) number in southern Sudan.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Typically associated with Acacia, Commiphora and Combretum savannas, but they also occur marginally in miombo Brachystegia woodland and in Isoberlina woodland, in Cameroon (Ciofolo and Pendu in press). Giraffes are selective browsers, with Acacia species forming the bulk of their diet throughout the range, but also species of the genera Balanites, Commiphora, Detarium, Boscia, Combretum, Ziziphus and Grewia (Ciofolo and Pendu in press).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): While southern populations are increasing in abundance, northern populations have been decreasing due to habitat degradation and poaching. For example, poaching and armed conflict across the range of the Reticulated Giraffe in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya has reduced numbers to perhaps fewer than 5,000 individuals ( Giraffe Conservation Foundation pers. obs., Fennessy 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: East (1999) estimated that around 40% of the total population survived in and around protected areas, with the main strongholds including: Waza National Park and the hunting zones of North Province (Cameroon); Zakouma National Park (Chad); Murchison Falls National Park (Uganda); Boma National Park (Sudan); South Luangwa National Park (Zambia); and, in southern Africa, Etosha National Park (Namibia), Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) and Kruger National Park (South Africa) (East 1999; Ciofolo and Pendu in press). Some of the major protected populations have decreased during the 1990s in national parks such as Serengeti (Tanzania) and Tsavo (Kenya).

In Niger, conservation projects have facilitated the Niger Giraffe’s population recovery in an area outside any formal protected park or reserve. However, poaching and habitat loss and degradation as a result of increased aridity, and expansion of human activities remain threats (Ciofolo and Pendu in press). This small population survives only in the wild, since the Giraffes held in captivity in the Vincennes Zoo, France, which were long considered to represent peralta, in fact belong to the subspecies antiquorum (Hassanin et al. 2007).

Rothschild's Giraffe is one of the most imperilled Giraffe subspecies remaining. Exact numbers of giraffes in Murchison Falls National Park are approximate due to lack of surveys but are most recently estimated at approximately 240 individuals. Determining exact population numbers and conservation status of the Murchison Falls National Park Rothschild's Giraffe population is a priority for long-term conservation of this subspecies. Wildlife Conservation Society are planning a survey in 2010.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
2. Savanna -> 2.2. Savanna - Moist
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management
6. Livelihood, economic & other incentives -> 6.1. Linked enterprises & livelihood alternatives

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:Yes
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:Yes
In-Place Education
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.2. War, civil unrest & military exercises
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Sport hunting/specimen collecting
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Ansell, W.F.H. 1972. Part 2, 15 Family Artiodactyla. In: J. Meester and H.W. Setzer (eds), The Mammals of Africa: An Identification Manual, pp. 1-84. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Boulet, H., Niandou, E. H. I., Alou, M., Dulieu, D. and Chardonnet, B. 2004. Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta) of Niger. Antelope Survey Update 9. IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group Report.

Brown, D. M., Brenneman, R. A., Georgiadis, N. J., Koepfli, K-P., Pollinger, J. P., Mila, B., Louis Jr., E., Grether, G. F., Jakobs, D. K. and Wayne, R. K. 2007. Extensive Population Genetic Structure in the Giraffe. BMC Biology 5: 57.

Ciofolo, I. and Pendu, Y. In press. Giraffa camelopardalis. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Ciofolo, I., Le Pendu, Y. and Gosser, A. 2000. Les girafes du Niger, dernières girafes d'Afrique de l'Ouest. Revue d’Ecologie (La Terre et La Vie) 55: 117-128.

Dagg, A. I. and Foster, J. B. 1982. The Giraffe: its anatomy, behavior and ecology. Second Edition. R.E. Krieger Publishing Co., Malabar.

East, R. (Compiler). 1999. African Antelope Database 1998. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Fennessy, J. 2007. GiD: development of the Giraffe Database and species status report. Giraffa 1(2): 2-6.

Grubb, P. 2005. Artiodactyla. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed), pp. 637-722. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA.

Hassanin, A., Ropiquet, A., Gourmand, A.-L., Chardonnet, B. and 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: 265-274.

IUCN. 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2010.2). Available at: (Accessed: 29 June 2010).

Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, San Diego, California, USA.

Citation: Fennessy, J. & Brown, D. 2010. Giraffa camelopardalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T9194A12968471. . Downloaded on 07 December 2016.
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