The giraffe is a genus of African even-toed ungulate mammals, the tallest living terrestrial animals, and the largest ruminants.
The scientific name of the giraffe is Giraffa camelopardalis, the species name camelopardalisbeing Latin. Camelopard is an archaic English word for giraffe derived from the Ancient Greek for camel and leopard, animals which the giraffe was thought to resemble.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of a giraffe is its long neck. Giraffe has seven cervical vertebrae, but each one can be up to 25 cm long. In addition to its role in assisting in feeding and maximizing vigilance, the neck is also used in an elaborate ritualized fight called ‘necking’, usually only seen in males. They repeatedly swing their neck to deliver powerful head-butts to their rival’s body.
They inhabit the savannas, grasslands, and open woodlands of Sub-Saharan Africa in a wide range stretching from Chad (Central Africa) to South Africa. Their main food is acacia leaves. Their long necks enable them to reach leaves other animals cannot reach. Giraffe tongue is so long that they could lick every part of their face, including their ears.
A male’s average weight is 3,500 pounds (1,600 kg). A female’s average weight is 1,800 pounds (830 kg).
These African animals can run at speeds of up to 34 miles per hour (56 km/h). Bulls sometimes battle one another by butting their long necks and heads. Such contests aren’t usually dangerous and end when one animal submits and walks away.
The South Africa Bushmen have a giraffe dance which they perform to cure head ailments. The smoke from burning giraffe skins was used by the medicine men in Buganda to treat nosebleeds.