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Rothschild Giraffe

Confusing to early explorers, who described it as a cross between a camel and a leopard, the giraffe is certainly an awkward-looking creature. Its swaying gait comes as a result of it moving both right legs simultaneously, followed by both left legs; and its favourite food is the hideously spiky acacia, which it strips of leaves using its long, dark purple tongue. Though they are the world’s tallest land mammal - even a newborn giraffe stands at six feet (2m) tall! - their neck contains just seven vertebrae - exactly the same as a human.

Little wonder, then, that this curious gentle giant fascinated Africa’s prehistoric inhabitants, who depicted it in cave paintings across the continent. Unfortunately, the giraffe’s unique characteristics also led to them being heavily hunted.

Their tails alone were made into bracelets, fly-swatters, threads for sewing and threading beads, and the species found in Uganda - Rothschild giraffe - is now one of the most endangered giraffe species, with fewer than 700 individuals remaining in the wild.

Information sourced from African Wildlife Foundation (http://www.awf.org/)

More in this category: « African Elephant Mountain Gorilla »

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