The Masai Giraffes : Also known as Kilimanjaro Giraffes, the Masai Giraffes are the tallest living terrestrial animals on the planet, these animals are quiet a sight, extremely picturesque and known for their graceful movement. Even when running at their fastest speed of 50 to 60 kilometers per hours, it is fascinating to see them.
Masai giraffes can be distinguished from the Reticulated Giraffes by their jagged spots instead of polygonal liver – coloured spots, the Masai giraffes are native to Kenya.
Another way to distinguish Masai Giraffes from the reticulated giraffes, the male Masai giraffes are taller than the fairer gender and usually grow to heights of around 18 feet. Their females grow to an average of about 14 feet.
Masai giraffes are diurnal creatures and they live in small groups, they feed 16 – 20 hours each day and their preferred feeding is to browse on various Acacia species using their long lips and tongues to reach between the thorns to extract the leaves.
Masai Giraffes have a four chambered stomach and can chew their own cud, if fresh vegetation is available in large quantities they can go without water for weeks, extracting it from their food.
Male Masai giraffes eat from the top branches and the females from the bottom branches, in the wilderness the main threat to the Masai giraffes are lions, leopards, hyenas and poachers.
The only defense for the Masai giraffes is their speed and their powerful kick that can render a lion unconscious and, in some case, it can even decapitate it.
Masai Giraffes have no seasonal breeding, they can breed at the age of 4 years. About 50% to 75% of the calves die in their few months due to predators. A single calf is born after a gestation period of 14 – 15 months, the calf is 6 feet tall when born and grows rapidly.
During the first month of its life, it stays wit its mother. After this period, it will join a group of calves and will be looked after by a babysitter cow. The calf will remain in this nursery for one year, Masai Giraffes have a life span of 25 – 30 years.
Appearance of Masai Giraffe
Female Masai giraffes have thick head hair while the male Masai giraffe is bald on top, both male and female have skin-covered horns called Ossicones. Their coat is covered in irregular star-shaped patches and is buff – colored below the knee, as with all giraffes. The spots on the coat act like human fingerprints, no two patterns are the same and they can be used to identify an individual.
The male Masai Giraffe grows to a height of 19 feet (5.5 metres) and weigh 2475 – 4275 pounds (1100 – 1900 kilograms) while the females grow to 16 feet (4.8 metres) and weigh 1575 – 2700 pounds (700 – 1200 kilograms).
Masai Giraffes tongues are 18 inches in length and their lips are long and prehensile. The Masai giraffes can run to speeds of 35 miles per hour.
In Kenya, these magnificent creatures can be spotted while on a wildlife safari in some of the Kenya’s popular wildlife destinations such as Masai Mara National Reserve and Nairobi National Park among others.
In Kenya, The Masai giraffes are estimated to be close to 33,000 living in the wilderness.
The Masai Giraffes are considered endangered by the IUCN and their population has declined with 52% in recent decades due to poaching and habitat loss.
Masai Mara National Reserve is the best place to see the Masai Giraffes in Kenya, the reserve is one of the most famous reserve in the world and the popular Kenya wildlife safari destination.
Masai Mara National Reserve is located in South West region of Kenya and is a vast scenic expanse of gently rolling Africa savannah plains measuring 1,510 square kilometers in area and borders Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the South.