By MAGDALENE WANJA
While many tourists are attracted to Lake Nakuru National Park by the wide variety of wild animals found there, very few are aware that the park hosts the endangered Rothschild giraffe.
The Rothschild, also known as the Baringo or Uganda giraffe is one of the most endangered giraffe subspecies found in Lake Nakuru and Ruma National Park in Nyanza.
According to Lake Nakuru Nakuru National Park Senior Warden Dickson Ritan, the park has a population of between 80 and 100 giraffes whereas Ruma has around 200.
The rare species, considered as one of the tallest giraffes at about 20 feet in height, gives beautiful scenery as you drive around the park.
The Rothschild’s giraffe is known to mate at any time of the year with a gestation period of 14 to 16 months and gives birth to one calf.
At Lake Nakuru National Park, the rare giraffe can easily be spotted near the tall acacia trees on which it feeds.
It uses its tongue, which is about 18-20 inches long, to reach out to leaves of the thick acacia trees which are its main source of food.
The Rothschild giraffe is easily distinguishable from other subspecies due to its unique design of the pelt.
The most obvious sign is its coat colouring which closely resembles the Maasai giraffe.
However, when compared to the Maasai giraffe, the Rothschild subspecies is paler and its orange-brown patches are less jagged and sharp in shape.
Unlike the other subspecies of giraffes found in Kenya, the Rothschild giraffe displays no markings on the lower parts of its legs.
“The Rothschild giraffe has no markings on the lower legs making it give the impression of wearing white stockings,” says Mr Ritan.
Approximately 450 Rothschild giraffes live in zoos around the world, where they are actively bred.
There are many special adaptations that allow the giraffe to be so successful in the African savannah.
They have a constant supply of food and therefore do not migrate with the seasons as other hoof stock must do.
Due to their height, they can see many miles away and spot lions before they ambush them.
This advanced warning capability, combined with sharp hooves for kicking and running up to speeds of 35 miles per hour, is enough to keep the giraffe relatively safe from predators.
Courtesy of nation.co.ke