6 speicies of giraffes


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Genetic analysis shows that the world's tallest animal—the giraffe—may actually be several species, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Biology. Existing taxonomy recognizes only one species of giraffe.

The Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which backed the research, says the results give new imperative to protecting habitat for giraffes.

"Such extreme genetic subdivision within a large vertebrate with high dispersal capabilities is unprecedented and exceeds that of any other large African mammal," said lead author David Brown, a WCS Associate and geneticist at UCLA. "Some of these giraffe populations number only a few hundred individuals and need immediate protection. Lumping all giraffes into one species obscures the reality that some kinds of giraffe are on the very brink."

"Giraffes are often overlooked in conservation initiatives, but they are as symbolic of African wilderness as any other species," said Dr. James Deutsch, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Africa Program. "Studies such as this one will help us inform conservation plans to save the most threatened giraffe populations."

According to the researchers, giraffe populations have declined by 30 percent over the past decade, leaving less than 100,000 individuals in the wild. The most threatened types include the reticulated giraffe (presently known as Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), which is found in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, and is down to 3,000 individuals due to poaching and war; the Nigerian giraffe (currently Giraffa camelopardalis peralta), which is found in West and Central Africa and is limited to 160 individuals; and the Rothschild giraffe (currently Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), a few hundred of which are found in a scattered protected areas in Kenya and in Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda.
I read in a recent National Geographic issue that each giraffe species will only mate with their own type. That each type has a distinct shape of the patches to tell them apart.
I can't understand it, since afterall they are all the same, aren't they? It's not like they are two different animals.


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They look the same to me but then again I'm not a specialist in giraffe's. I don't see why there can't be a variety within the species though as it is a way of the world.