Another popular animal synonymous with Africa, the Giraffe is famous for its bizarre physical attributes, particularly its very long neck and its black spotted coat on a sand coloured background. They are also the largest land mammal on Earth. Giraffes inhabit areas as diverse as dense forests to open plains. They are not particularly picky as they can survive without water and only drink water where it is available. Because of this ability to go without water they are even found in arid deserts and have a large population distribution all across Sub-Saharan Africa. Giraffes are also hardy because they eat a wide range of grass, fruits from trees and shrubs (especially the Acacia tree) and can survive on only 15 pounds of foliage from trees per day. However, it eats up to 65 pound of foliage per day, and tends to feed from 16 to 20 hours per day. Giraffes are generally around 18 ft. tall and weigh up to an eye-watering 3,000 lb. The females also have a long gestation period of 14 to 16 months, and when calves are born grow at a blistering speed of up to 1 inch a day. However, only 25% of calves survive the first year due to them being dependent on their mother and thus makes them a fairly easy target for their predators which include lions and crocodiles. Nevertheless, the good news is that an estimated 90,000 Giraffes remain in the wild and so populations remain fairly stable. However, only the dominant male and female breed in a pack, with all the other members of the pack being simply helpers. The packs vary in size, from just pairs and their pups all the way up to 50 individuals, which prefer habitats consisting of moderate dense bush and open plains. They are very social animals who spend most of their time with each other, and they are one of the most efficient hunters in Africa, being able to attack and kill victims of all sizes ranging from Elands to Hares. They eat their prey sometimes when it is still alive and will devour the carcass within a few minutes. They only occur in low population numbers as a result of having large territories. It is sadly one of Africa’s most endangered mammals with a poor conservation status, the main contributing factor being humans hunting them. However, other factors include diseases like rabies where they have come into contact with domestic animals infected with it. Today there are only a few pockets left, mainly confined to eastern and southern Africa, with Botswana having the largest and most widespread populations.
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