Doesn’t this animal remind you of a giraffe? I mean, look at its long neck! It’s a gerenuk, also known as the giraffe gazelle. I’m in the African Great lakes region, one of the two regions where this beautiful animal is found. The other are where Gerenuks are found is the Horn of Africa.
The gerenuks are an interesting species first discovered in 1878. They are tall slender antelopes that resemble gazelles, but have longer necks and more solid skulls. The name “Gerenuk” itself meas giraffe necked in the Somali language. Although their heads are small, they have large beautifully liquid eyes, and also large ears. These features combined with their lyre shaped (S-like) horns give the gerenuks a striking appearance. Gerenuks are around 100 cm tall on average and can weigh between 30-50 kg. The males of this species are slightly taller than females. They have brown uppercoats and a lighter coat on the sides and underparts. They have a short tail with a tuft of hair at the end.
What do Gerenuks Eat?
Gerenuks are herbivores who eat leaves, flowers and buds alike. They are ‘adaptable eaters’, which means they are quite resourceful when it comes to finding food. Unlike most gazelles who tend to be ground eaters, gerenuks use their long necks to reach up to higher growing vegetation, and may also stand up on their hind legs at times when the branches are too high up to reach otherwise. An interesting thing about gerenuks is that they don’t need water! They get the moisture they need from the vegetation they eat. This enables them to survive in deserts and scrublands as well.
Gerenuk Natural Habitat
They also have no specific breeding season, and tend to live in small groups. Gerenuks mark their territories using their pre-orbital glands. Pre-orbital glands are glands near their eyes which emit a tar-like scent bearing substance). Isn’t that interesting? I also found out that Gerenuks have a variety of calls, depending on the situation they’re in, including a whistle!
Sadly, this animal now has a “near endangerment” status, due to habitat loss and human threats.