Giraffes in Uganda – Rothschild giraffes

Uganda the pearl of Africa is one of the African countries blessed with over 1,669 giraffes estimated in 2016. The Rothschild giraffes are the world’s tallest mammal with a very long neck and legs with a beautiful colored coat.

They are found only in three Uganda National parks, Murchison falls national park, Kidepo valley National park, and Lake Mburo national park and the Pian Upe wildlife reserve with Murchison falls harboring the biggest population of giraffes in Uganda.

The name giraffe is derived from the Arabic word ‘xirapha’, which translates as one who walks swiftly. This is the tallest of all the species measuring up to 5.88metres tall and weighing around 2,500pounds. Males are bigger than females by a few hundred pounds.

  • Habitat of Rothschild giraffes

Isolated populations of Rothschild giraffes tend to live in savannahs, grasslands, and open woodlands where they have access to water sources. They also occupy semi-desert areas and always move long distances in search of water.


Rothschild’s giraffes do not establish defended territories but they occupy large homes of 20-120 km2 and the size of the food depends on food availability and abundance. They feed at night and during the day but activities reduce during hot hours. They are tolerant of other animals around them as long as they don’t pose a threat.

They are very friendly but males tend to engage in mating fights and these battles tend to be frequent since giraffes mate all year long.

They live in herds of usually 4-30 individuals but these groupings are relatively unstable with the only stable unit being that of a cow and a calf, with adult bulls spending their time alone. They spend a large portion of their time foraging for food.

Bulls have a complex dominance hierarchy which obviates territory formation with dominant males having all the rights to mate with females. Dominance starts in young bulls which elaborate ritualized fight called necking.

Young cows tend to remain in their mother herds but young males tend to leave and disperse at the age of 3-4 years.

Giraffes move in slow-motion but with amazing pace. The swinging of the 2 legs on the same side of the body forward happens at the same time and when moving on a full gallop it can reach a speed of up to 60km per hour.

Food/ diet of Rothschild giraffes

Rothschild’s giraffes are herbivores which means they survive on plants. They prefer the new, young shoots, leaves, flowers, and bark from trees and shrubs and occasionally they do feed on grass when the grass is in its early stages.

The long necks, 45cm tongue, and legs allow them access food that is out of reach of other animals which is a big advantage, especially in dry seasons.

  • Reproduction of Rothschild giraffes

They do mate at any time of the year and have a gestation period of 450days dropping a single calf of 47-100 kg. The newly born calf can stand and walk within an hour after birth but usually remains isolated for 1-3 weeks.

Cows do not randomly drop their calves in their home range, birthing is done in calving grounds for defense mechanisms against predators. Female giraffes become sexually mature at the age of 3-4 years while males are ready to mate at the age of 5 years. Despite their large size, young giraffes frequently fall prey to lions, hyenas, and leopards.

One may ask, how do the Rothschild giraffes defend themselves against predators?

They have long strong legs and the most powerful defense is their kicks which can seriously wound and kill a predator. The long legs also allow it to run faster than predators.

Rothschild giraffes

Rothschild giraffes in Uganda

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Rothschild giraffes

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