Giraffes are known for their great height hence their ability to reach leaves from the tallest trees, so scientists were surprised when they discovered two of the world’s tallest mammals were half the size of a regular one.
The tall animal can reach 20 feet in height however, in 2015 Conservation scientists found a 9-foot 3-inch giraffe in a Ugandan wildlife park. And three years later, on the opposite side of the continent, they found an 8 1/2-foot giraffe in Namibia.
Both creatures had regular long necks but their legs were far shorter and thicker.
The scientists published their findings in the British Medical Journal in December. The report said while captive animals living with skeletal dysplasias usually have lower survival rates, as the giraffes are over the age of one it should not impact their longevity.
Are the Giraffes at Risk of Extinction?
But poaching and shrinking habitats have caused giraffe numbers to decline by 40 percent in just 30 years, according to the African Wildlife Foundation. The numbers have declined to 111,000, so all four species are classified by conservationists as ‘vulnerable.’
“It’s because of mostly habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, growing human populations, more land being cultivated,” Fennessy said. “Combined with a little bit of poaching, climate change.”
But conservation efforts have helped numbers start to recover in the past decade, he added.
In the late 19th and 20th centuries herds of 20 to 30 giraffes were recorded, now on average herd sizes contain fewer than six individuals.
Footage taken by the foundation showed the Ugandan animal standing on thick, muscled legs in the dry savanna of Murchison Falls national park in northern Uganda, while a taller animal with the usual long, stick-like legs walked behind it.
“Unfortunately there’s probably no benefit at all. Giraffes have grown taller to reach the taller trees,” Fennessy said. He added that it would most likely be physically impossible for them to breed with their normal-sized counterparts.
Author: Moses Echodu
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