Shoulder height 250–350cm. Weight 1,000–1,400kg.
The world's tallest and longest-necked land animal, a fully grown giraffe can measure up to 5.5m high. Quite unmistakable, giraffe live in loosely structured herds of up to 15 head, though herd members often disperse, when they may be seen singly or in smaller groups. Formerly distributed throughout East and southern Africa, these great browsers are now found only in the southern side of the Luangwa Valley and the far southwest of Zambia.
About eight subspecies of giraffe have been identified in Africa, and the Luangwa valley contains one such distinct population, Thornicroft's giraffe
(G. c. thornicroftii
). These are generally regarded as having dark body patches and lighter neck patches than the normal 'southern' race of giraffe, and their colour patches don't normally extend below the knees, leaving their lower legs almost white. Their faces are also light or white. The vast majority of these live on the east side of the Luangwa River, in the GMA outside the park. They have been protected from hunting by a local taboo.
Much further west, the pocket of giraffe which are thought to still survive around the Sioma Ngwezi National Park are Angolan giraffe
(G. c. angolensis
), although so little is known of what survives in Sioma Ngwezi that their current status there is uncertain.