Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rothschild's Giraffe

Rothschild's giraffe is named after Walter Rothschild, a member of the wealthy Rothschild banking family and an avid natural history collector whose collection was the largest ever amassed by an individual. His collection is now a division of the Natural History Museum in England. The Rothschld's giraffe is also known as the Ugandan girafffe or Baringo (Kenya) giraffe, areas where that giraffe is (or was) found. It is the third subspecies of giraffe we saw on our trip.
Rothschild's giraffe in Nakuru NP. We saw four or five on this hillside, quite a distance away. Note the white "stockings" or absence of patches below the hocks. Photo by Mark Edwards. 
Another giraffe in Nakuru NP. Photo by Mark Edwards. 
Rothschild's giraffe is found in parts of Uganda and Kenya. It has patches kind of between the reticulated giraffe and Masai giraffe. Their patches are less jagged and sharp in shape than the Masai, but not as straight lined and polygonal as the reticulated. The lines between patches are also creamier and less white than those in the reticulated giraffe. The patches may also have darker spots or radiating lines or streaks within them.
Note the dark areas and streaks within the patches. Some of the patches look like they could be on a reticulated, but others have similarities to Masai patches. 
This provides an even better view of the dark areas within the patches. 
Patches usually do not go below the hocks and almost never to the hooves. Some individuals develop five ossicones. Two are the larger ones where other giraffes have them, a third may be in the center of the forehead and the other two may be behind each ear. There are fewer than 700 in the wild (compared to 5,000 reticulated and 40,000 Masai) and 450 in zoos (compared to 450 reticulated and 100 Masai).
This is a captive Rothcshild's giraffe at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi.
The Rothschild's giraffe is listed as an endangered species and there are only two significant spots to find them in the wild now: Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya, where we saw them, and Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda.
Judy at the Giraffe Center. Note the ossicone behind the ear and the lump on the forehead.
It was fun to feel their heads and features. 
We also visited the Giraffe Center in Nairobi where they have them and were able to feed them. It was a thrill to touch the ossicones, put my arms around one giraffe's neck, feel its wet tongue probing for food in my hand and also to get a giraffe "kiss" by holding a food pellet between my lips and have the giraffe collect it with its tongue.

No one can accuse me of kissing a giraffe without Judy's knowledge. 

1 comment:

  1. How cool to be able to touch them, see them so up- close. That kiss may be a little TOO close for my taste..