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)
- Brown, David; Rick Brenneman, Klaus-Peter Koepfli, John Pollinger, Borja Mila, Nicholas Georgiadis, Edward Louis, Gregory Grether, David Jacobs, Robert Wayne (2007). "Extensive population genetic structure in the giraffe". BMC Biology 5 (1): 57. DOI:10.1186/1741-7007-5-57. ISSN 1741-7007. Retrieved on 2007-12-21.
Fennessy, J. & Brown, D. 2010. Giraffa camelopardalis. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2.
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- Giraffe Conservation Foundation, 2013. Giraffe, The Facts: Current giraffe status. Retrieved June 4, 2013 from http://www.giraffeconservation.org/giraffe_facts.php?pgid=40.
- Los Angeles Zoo and Public Gardens, 2013. Animal Facts: Masai Giraffe. Retrieved June 4, 2013 from http://www.lazoo.org/animals/mammals/giraffe_masai/index.html
- Marais, A.J., Fennessy, S. & Fennessy, J. 2012. Country Profile: A rapid assessment of the giraffe conservation status in Rwanda. Giraffe Conservation Foundation, Windhoek, Namibia. PDF, retrieved June 4, 2013 from http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CEIQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.giraffeconservation.org%2Fdownload_project.php%3Fid%3D5&ei=CkquUa7WKof-iQLuz4Eo&usg=AFQjCNG3K6LBuL9bjSf7wVGGsM45V763EQ&bvm=bv.47380653,d.cGE
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The Masai Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi), also known as the Maasai Giraffe or Kilimanjaro Giraffe, is the largest subspecies of giraffe and the tallest land mammal. It is found in Kenya and Tanzania.
The Masai Giraffe has jagged spots on its body. It also has a short tassel of hair on its tail. The bony outgrowths of the male's skull superficially provide the appearance of up to 5 ossicones. The dominant male's spots tend to be darker in colour than those of other members of its herd.
Adult males usually reach around 5.5 m in height—although they have been recorded at reaching heights of up to approximately 6 m—and females tend to be a bit shorter at around 5–5.5 m (16–18.0 ft) tall. Their legs and necks are both approximately 2 m (6 ft 7 in) long, and their heart has a mass of roughly 12 kg (26 lb).
There is no seasonal breeding season for the Masai Giraffe. Females can typically breed from the age of 4. They give birth standing up. It takes 2–6 hours for a giraffe to give birth. About 50–75% of the calves die in their first few months due to predation. Even though many calves die, the mothers will stab predators such as hyenas or lions with their sharp hooves. This will critically injure or kill a predator quickly; the Masai Giraffe's kick is strong and is capable of crushing a lion's skull or shattering its spine.