Ugandan Wildlife: Giraffe

giraffes in murchison falls national park

Giraffe which was native to Africa, excited man’s curiosity that it was sometimes sent as a diplomatic gift to other countries one of the earliest records tells of a giraffe going from ‘Melinda’ (presumably Malindi) in Kenya to China in 1415. it was thought to be a cross between a Camel and a leopard, a mistake immortalized in the giraffe’s scientific name of giraffe Camelopardalis

Fact Sheet

Common name: Giraffe

Scientific name: Giraffa Camelopardalis

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: mammalia

Genus: Girraffa

Species: Camelopardalis

Where to find the Giraffe

Giraffes are found in arid and dry savanna zones south of the Sahara, wherever trees occur. In Uganda you will easily find the Giraffe at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center and the Murchison Falls protected area. Kazungula, Maasai steppe and Sambiru are some other East African areas where giraffes can be seen.

What the Giraffe Eats

Giraffes are herbivores/ browsers. They flourish in areas where food is abundant year round. They drink water where it’s available and can survive where it is scare. Occasionally they eat grass and fruits of various trees and shrubs,though their principal food source is the acacia tree.

How to identify the Giraffe

Early written seconds described the giraffe as ‘magnificent in appearance, bizarre in form, unique in gait, colossal in height and in offensive in character. Ancient cultures in Africa reversed the giraffe, as some modern cultures do today and commonly depicted it in pre-historic rock and cave paintings. The giraffe is tallest living animal and has a distinctive walking gait moving both right legs forward, then both left. It has unusually elastic blood vessels with a series of values that help offset the sudden build up of blood when head is raised, towered or swung quickly. Giraffe horns are actually knobs covered with skin and hair above the eyes that protect the head from injury.


The giraffe is non territorial and social it lives in very loose open herds with no specific boarders or coordination of herd movement. This structure reflects that a giraffe’s size makes a safety in numbers tactic unnecessary and that the trees they feed on tend to be spaced apart. Dominance between males is established by ‘necking’ swinging heads at one another in tests of strength. Gestation period is between 14-16 months. Nursery groups of young amah are left alone together during the day while their mothers feed.