Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi, known commonly as the Masai giraffe and sometimes as the Kilimanjaro giraffe, is one of the nine giraffe subspecies. This giraffe is native to east African savannahs in southern Kenya and Tanzania. Although Rwanda has no historical record of native giraffe, in 1986 two Masai giraffe were introduced into the southern part of Akager National Park, where, with subsequent introductions of a few more individuals, they flourished into the currently estimated 100 individuals currently inhabiting this area.
The Masai Giraffe can be physically distinguished from other subspecies by its darker coloration and the shape of its irregular dark brown spots, which have distinctive frilly edges. Of all the subspecies, the Masai Giraffe has the largest population size, estimated at <40,000 in the wild, and at 100 individuals captive in zoos. While the IUCN provisionally lists the Giraffa camelopardalis species as a whole of Least Concern based on its widespread distribution and population size (estimated in 1999 at 140,000 individuals), the Giraffe Conservation Fund (GCF) reports a significant (40%) drop in overall population of the species in the last 10 years and consider the populations of most subspecies, including G. c. tippelskirchi, either declining or unstable. The IUCN and GCF have ongoing projects to census giraffe subspecies, re-evaluate their conservation status, and develop appropriate management programs. The main threats to the Masai Giraffe (and other subspecies) are imposed by humans and include loss, degradation and fractionation of habitat and poaching for fur and meat. Natural predators include lions, leopards, African wild dogs and hyaenas. For more information on giraffes in general see Giraffa camelopardalis.
(Brown et al. 2007; Fennessy and Brown 2010; Giraffe Conservation Foundation 2013; Los Angeles Zoo and Public Gardens 2013; Marais et al. 2012; Wikipedia 2013)
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