Animal Science

A rethink about giraffes

If you thought that all giraffes were created equal, think again. Yes, based on their looks they all seem pretty much the same, but their genes tell a totally different story. The ones you’ll see in the Kruger National Park or elsewhere in South Africa are genetically very different from the ones in Ethiopia and South Sudan, for instance. In fact, there are four genetically quite distinct giraffe species to be found around Africa, according to an article in the journal Current Biology.

Julian Fennessy of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation in Namibia is the lead author.

Researchers are proposing four distinct giraffe species. Source: Fennessy J. et al (2016)
Researchers are proposing four distinct giraffe species. Source: Fennessy J. et al (2016)

Those four species are:

  • The southern giraffe (Giraffa giraffa)
  • The Masai giraffe (Giraffa tippelskirchi)
  • the reticulated giraffe (Giraffa reticulata)
  • the northern giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), which includes the Nubian giraffe ( c. camelopardalis) as a distinct subspecies.

According to Fennessy, the elusive Nubian giraffe from Ethiopia and the South Sudan region was the first described some 300 years ago, and is now shown to be part of the northern giraffe.

If the original research article is more your thing, read it here. It not, here’s a comprehensive analysis of the research article:

Reference: Fennessy, J. et al (2016). Multi-locus Analyses Reveal Four Giraffe Species Instead of OneCurrent Biology







Related posts

Hunting in Africa: to ban or not to ban is the question


Picking a rhino’s brain

Engela Duvenage

“Kry die dino-tannie se handtekening, Ma

Engela Duvenage

What’s on KZN’s crowned eagles’ menu?

Engela Duvenage

The Case of the Drinking Aardvark

Engela Duvenage

Shisa Sayensi: Bacwaninga izakhi zofuzo lwenkomo ukuqeda indlala

Sibusiso Biyela