Giraffe Pictures

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Giraffe Habitat and Range

Female giraffes form small herds that usually do not include males.
Female giraffes form small herds that usually do not include males. Photo © Anup Shah / Getty Images.

Pictures of giraffes, the world's tallest living land animal, including the various subspecies such as the Rothschild's giraffe, Masai giraffe, West African giraffe, Kordofan giraffe, and others.

Giraffes once roamed the dry savannas of sub-Saharan Africa in areas where trees were present. But as human populations expanded, giraffe populations contracted. Today, giraffe populations total more than 100,000 individuals but their numbers are thought to be declining due to a variety of threats including habitat destruction and poaching. Giraffe numbers are suffering greater declines in the northern parts of Africa, while in southern Africa their numbers are increasing.

Giraffes have disappeared from a number of areas within their former range including Angola, Mali, Nigeria, Eritrea, Guinea, Maritania, and Senegal. Conservationists have reintroduced giraffes to Rwanda and Swaziland in an effort to reestablish populations in those regions. They are native to 15 countries in Africa.

Giraffes are usually found in savannas where Acacia, Commiphora and Combretum trees are present. They browse on leaves from these trees and rely most heavily on Acacia trees as their primary food source.


Fennessy, J. & Brown, D. 2010.  Giraffa camelopardalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T9194A12968471. Downloaded on 02 March 2016.

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Giraffes Classification

Photo © Mark Bridger / Getty Images.

Giraffes belong to a group of mammals called the even-toed hoofed mammals. Giraffes belong to the Giraffidae family, a group that includes giraffes and okapis as well as numerous extinct species. There are nine subspecies of giraffe that are recognized, although the number of giraffe subspecies remains a topic of some debate.

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Evolution of Giraffes

Photo © RoomTheAgency / Getty Images.

Giraffes and their present-day cousins the okapis evolved from a tall, antelope-like animal that lived between 30 and 50 million years ago. The descendants of this early giraffe-like animal further diversified and expanded in range between 23 and 6 million years ago. These ancestors of giraffes did not have extremely long necks as giraffes do today, but they did possess large ossicones (the fur-covered horns that consist of ossified cartilage present in modern giraffes).

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Angolan Giraffe

Angolan giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis
Scientific name: Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis Angolan giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis. Photo © Pete Walentin / Getty Images.

The Angolan giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis), has a lighter overall color and uneven, notched patches of slightly darker, reddish brown. The spotted pattern extends down over most of the leg.

Despite its name, the Angolan giraffe is no longer present in Angola. Populations of the Angolan giraffe survive in southwestern Zambia and throughout Namibia. Conservationists estimate that there are fewer than 15,000 individuals that remain in the wild. About 20 individuals survive in zoos.

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Kordofan Giraffe

Kordofan giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum
Scientific name: Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum Kordofan giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum. Photo © Philip Lee Harvey / Getty Images.

The Kordofan giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis antiquorum) is a subspecies of girafe that inhabits Central Africa including Cameroon, Central African Republic, Sudan, and Chad. Kordofan giraffes are smaller than the other subspecies of giraffes and their spots are less distinct and somewhat irregular in shape.

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Masai Giraffe

Masai giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi
Scientific name: Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi Masai giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi. Photo © Roger de la Harpe / Getty Images.

Masai giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) are a subspecies of giraffe that is native to Kenya and Tanzania. Masaii giraffes are also known as Kilimanjaro giraffes. There are about 40,000 Masai giraffes that remain in the wild. The Masai giraffe can be distinguished from other giraffe subspecies thanks to the irregular, jagged-edged spots that cover its body. It also has a dark tassel of hair at the end of its tail.

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Nubian Giraffe

Scientific name: Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis. Photo © Michael D. Kock / Getty Images.

The Nubian giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis) is a subspecies of giraffe that is native to North Africa including Ethiopia and Sudan. This subspecies was once found in Egypt and Eritrea as well but is now locally extinct from those areas. Nubian giraffes have clearly defined spots that are a deep chestnut color. The background color of their coat is a pale buff to white color.

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Reticulated Giraffe

Reticulated giraffe
Scientific name: Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata Reticulated giraffe. Photo © Martin Harvey / Getty Images.

The reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) is a subspecies of giraffe that is native to East Africa and can be found in the countries of Ethiopa, Kenya, and Somalia. Reticulated giraffes are the most common of the subspecies to be are exhibited in zoos. They have narrow white lines between the dark chestnut patches on their coat. The pattern extends down over their legs.

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Rhodesian Giraffe

Rhodesian Giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis thornicrofti
Scientific name: Giraffa camelopardalis thornicrofti Rhodesian Giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis thornicrofti. Photo © Juergen Ritterbach / Getty Images.

The Rhodesian giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis thornicrofti) is a subspecies of giraffe that inhabits the South Luangwa Valley in Zambia. There are only about 1,500 individuals of this subspecies that remain in the wild and no captive individuals. The Rhodesian giraffe is also known as Thornicrofts giraffe or Luangwa giraffe.

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Rothschild's Giraffe

Rothschild's giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi
Scientific name: Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi Rothschild's giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi. Photo © Ariadne Van Zandbergen / Getty Images.

The Rothschild's giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) is a subspecies of giraffe that is native to East Africa. The Rothschild's giraffe is the most endangered of all the subspecies of giraffes, with only a few hundred individuals remaining in the wild. These remnant populations are located in Kenya's Lake Nakuru National Park and Murchison Falls National Park, in Uganda.

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South African Giraffe

South African giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis giraffe
Scientific name: Giraffa camelopardalis giraffe South African giraffe - Giraffa camelopardalis giraffe. Photo © Thomas Dressler / Getty Images.

The South African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis giraffa) is a subspecies of giraffe that is native to South Africa, including Botswana, Mozambique, Zmibabwe, Namibia, and South Africa. South African giraffes have dark patches that are irregular in shape. The base color of their coat is a light buff color.

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West African Giraffe

Scientific name: Giraffa camelopardalis peralta. Photo © Alberto Arzoz / Getty Images.

West African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta) is a subspecies of giraffe that is native to West Africa and is now restricted to southwest Niger. This subspecies is extremely rare, with only about 300 individuals remaining in the wild. West African giraffes have a light coat with light reddish brown patches.