Vintage African Giraffe foot and leg section, 1960’s. This beautiful specimen was professionally mounted.
The giraffe is a large African hoofed mammal belonging to the genus Giraffa. It is the tallest living terrestrial animal and the largest ruminant on Earth. Traditionally, giraffes were thought to be one species, Giraffa camelopardalis, with nine subspecies. Most recently, researchers proposed dividing them into up to eight extant species due to new research into their mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, as well as morphological measurements. Seven other extinct species of Giraffa are known from the fossil record.
The giraffe’s chief distinguishing characteristics are its extremely long neck and legs, its horn-like ossicones, and its spotted coat patterns. It is classified under the family Giraffid, along with its closest extant relative, the okapi. Its scattered range extends from Chad in the north to South Africa in the south, and from Niger in the west to Somalia in the east. Giraffes usually inhabit savannahs and woodlands. Their food source is leaves, fruits, and flowers of woody plants, primarily acacia species, which they browse at heights most other herbivores cannot reach.
Lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, and African wild dogs may prey upon giraffes. Giraffes live in herds of related females and their offspring or bachelor herds of unrelated adult males, but are gregarious and may gather in large aggregations. Males establish social hierarchies through “necking”, combat bouts where the neck is used as a weapon. Dominant males gain mating access to females, which bear sole responsibility for raising the young.