As revealed in our previous post, ’10 Things You May Not Know About Giraffes’, there is only one species of giraffe but a number of sub-species, which are differentiated by various factors including size, colour and pattern variations. There are currently 9 recognised subspecies of giraffe as follows:
The Nubian Giraffe
This is the nominate subspecies and is found in Eastern Sudan and the North East Democratic Republic of Congo, although it is thought that less than 250 remain in the wild and it is very rare to find them in captivity.
The Somali Giraffe
This species is also know as the Reticulated Giraffe and it is the amongst the most common of giraffes found in zoos. It’s natural habitat ranges from the North East of Kenya and into Southern Ethiopia and Somalia.
The Smoky Giraffe
The Smoky (or Angolan) Giraffe gets it’s name from the pattern on it’s coat which consists of large spots with some notches on the edges. Over 20,000 are still estimated to remain in the wild across Southern Angola, Northern Namibia, Western Zimbabwe, Southwestern Zambia and Botswana.
The Kordofan Giraffe
This subspecies has smaller, more irregular spots than other varieties and is known to live in Southern Chad, Northern Cameroon and the Central African Republic. It is believed that fewer than 3,000 remain in the wild.
The Maasai Giraffe
The Maasai (or Kilimanjaro) Giraffe is the darkest coloured of all the subspecies and can be found in Central and Southern Kenya and Tanzania.
The Rothschild Giraffe
The Rothschild Giraffe is also known as the Baringo Giraffe (because it inhabits an area near Lake Baringo in West-Central Kenya) or the Ugandan Giraffe (again because it’s range includes Uganda).
The South African Giraffe
Not surprisingly, this giraffe can be found in northern South Africa, as well as the southern parts of Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique and it is estimated that 12,000 of this subspecies remain in the wild.
The Thornicroft Giraffe
The area that this subspecies inhabits is restricted to the Luangwa Valley in Eastern Zambia and less than 1,500 remain in the wild with no record of any currently being kept in zoos.
The West African Giraffe
This is the rarest of the giraffe subspecies with fewer than 250 remaining in the wild. It is endemic to Southern Niger.