Uganda has a variety of wildlife to offer as a safari destination. Wildlife in Uganda is all beaitifully and wonderfully made, and a clear depiction of this beauty is the Rothschild giraffe.This species literally stands head and shoulders above the rest of the animals you will see on your Uganda safari. The Rothschild giraffe is one of the most unique herbivore species in the world.
What makes the Rothschild giraffe so unique?
The Rothschild Giraffe is also referred to as the Uganda Giraffe or the Baringo Giraffe. It is the tallest giraffe in the world and the tallest animal as well. A fully grown Rothschild giraffe can weigh up to 2800 pounds and measure up to 20 feet (6 meters) in height. The males are often much heavier than the females.
Apart from their height, the Rothschild giraffes have a few other features that make them different and unique compared to other giraffes.
Rothschild giraffes have five horns. Two where other giraffes have their horns on top of their heads, two behind their ears, and one in the center of their foreheads.
The coloring of their coat is also different from that of other giraffes. The coat of the Rothschild giraffes has dark patches and creamy white channels running between the dark patches. These markings actually are somewhat like leopard skin markings. The coat markings of each giraffe are as unique to it as a fingerprint is to a human being.
The Rothschild giraffe also has no markings on the lower leg, giving it an impression of wearing white socks.
Because of their height and gangly appearance one would expect Rothschild giraffes to be slow and clumsy especially when you see them walk slowly through the savannah; but that is not the case. These giraffes are quite steady and fast. They are one of the fastest species of animals and can reach a top speed of about 56km/hr (35mph) when running across open ground. When travelling longer distances they can move at about 16km/hour (10mph).
They also have very long tongues reaching an average of 45.6cm. Giraffes are browsing animals which use their huge necks and their long and mobile tongues to strip the leaves and bark from trees on the African savannah. They also graze and have a series of special valves and a complicated network of elastic blood vessels in the neck, not only to prevent the animal from passing out when it bends down to drink or graze, but also to ensure that the blood is successfully pumped along its long neck to the brain.
Amazingly giraffes can go for months without drinking liquid water. They can instead get water into their bodies from leaves that they eat. You can often find them nibbling on leaves from trees such as the acacia tree in the savannah. They get water through these leaves. Now we know why their heads are always up in the upmost branches of trees.
Why are they called “endangered”?
There are only about 670 Rothschild giraffes found in the world today. And an estimated 240 of these is found in Murchison Falls National Park. Although giraffes in general are rated as animals of least concern because they are very many all over the world, the population of the Rothschild giraffes is so small that in 2010, they were placed on the red list as endangered species. And efforts are being made through breeding programmes to expand the gene pool and increase their numbers to save the species from extinction.
Where can I go to see these unique giraffes?
The Rothschild giraffes are found in the wild and in very few places. In East Africa you can find some in Kidepo valley national park, Murchison Falls national park –these are in Uganda, and Nakuru national park in Kenya.
On a game drive through Murchison falls national park, you can easily come across 50 large herds of giraffes. There is no other place in Africa with giraffe herds or groups as big as the ones in Uganda. Murchison Falls Park is certainly the best place to see the magnificent Rothschild Giraffes in the wild.
This magnificent endangered species can best be seen in Murchison falls or Kidepo valley national parks.
Murchison falls and Kidepo valley national park are Uganda’s Rothschild giraffe habitats. Murchison falls is much more easily accessed for people on safaris in Uganda. Kidepo valley is a one and a half day journey by road, or you could fly to the park. Both means of transportations are quite costly. However although remote and difficult to access Kidepo valley national park is a very amazing and rewarding place to visit.