Weird and Wonderful – #1 the Gerenuk
Africa is probably best known for its wildlife and for good reason, the majestic and powerful Big 5; Lions, Elephants, Rhino’s, these are the images that flash through your mind as you think of the wildlife grazing and stalking the wide open plains of Africa. However, there are thousands of other creatures that sometimes slip through the cracks and are not as well-known or widely publicized as the rest.
In this series I will be brining you closer to some of these animals of Africa, showcasing the weird and wonderful.
The Gerenuk or Waller’s Gazelle is a truly unique and amazing member of the Antelopinae family. It gets its name from the Somali word Garanuug meaning “giraffe-necked’. They are typically found in dry thorn shrubland and desert in the Horn of Africa and the African Great Lakes region.
They are the tallest amongst their family of Antilopinae, measuring around 1.50 meters (4ft 11in) from head to tail. Males are a little taller and heavier than the females. The Gerenuk is easily recognizable by its distinctive long, slender neck which can be elongated further if need be for activities like feeding off the taller brambles and undergrowth of the desert. It also has remarkably long, slender legs which are another great advantage as they can gallop away into the distance at very high speeds from any form of predator trying to attack.
Gerenuks reproduce throughout the year. Females reach sexual maturity at around one year, and males reach sexual maturity at 1.5 years, although in the wild they may only be successful after acquiring a territory (perhaps 3.5 years). The gestation period is about seven months. They are born one at a time, weighing about 3 kg (6.6 lb.) at birth.
The Gerenuk is a wonderful animal and it surprises me so few people know about them, you’d think with a neck like that they’d stand out of the crowd a bit more.
Check in next week for, Weird and Wonderful #2