Southern giraffe

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See Giraffe for details on how this proposed taxonomy fits within the currently accepted taxonomy of giraffes.

The southern giraffe (Giraffa giraffa), also known as two-horned giraffe, [1] is a proposed species of giraffe native to Southern Africa. However, the IUCN currently recognizes only one species of giraffe with nine subspecies. [2] [3]

In biology, a species is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined. While these definitions may seem adequate, when looked at more closely they represent problematic species concepts. For example, the boundaries between closely related species become unclear with hybridisation, in a species complex of hundreds of similar microspecies, and in a ring species. Also, among organisms that reproduce only asexually, the concept of a reproductive species breaks down, and each clone is potentially a microspecies.

Giraffe Tall African ungulate

The giraffe (Giraffa) is a genus of African even-toed ungulate mammals, the tallest living terrestrial animals and the largest ruminants. Taxonomic classifications of one to eight extant giraffe species have been described, based upon research into the mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, as well as morphological measurements of Giraffa, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature currently recognises only one species, Giraffa camelopardalis, the type species, with nine subspecies. Seven other species are extinct, prehistoric species known from fossils.

Southern Africa southernmost region of the African continent

Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics, and including several countries. The term southern Africa or Southern Africa, generally includes Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, though Angola may be included in Central Africa and Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe in East Africa. From a political perspective the region is said to be unipolar with South Africa as a first regional power.

Contents

Southern giraffes have rounded or blotched spots, some with star-like extensions on a light tan background, running down to the hooves. They range from South Africa, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique. Their approximate population is composed of 44,500 individuals. [4]

South Africa Republic in the southernmost part of Africa

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Bantu ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European, Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.

Angola country in Africa

Angola, officially the Republic of Angola, is a west-coast country of south-central Africa. It is the seventh-largest country in Africa, bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Zambia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Angola has an exclave province, the province of Cabinda that borders the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The capital and largest city of Angola is Luanda.

Namibia republic in southern Africa

Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean; it shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Although it does not border Zimbabwe, less than 200 metres of the Zambezi River separates the two countries. Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek, and it is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.

All giraffes are considered Vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN. [5]

Vulnerable species IUCN conservation category

A vulnerable species is one which has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as likely to become endangered unless the circumstances that are threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

Taxonomy and evolution

Internal systematics of giraffes (Fennessy et al. 2016) [4]
Giraffa  

 Giraffa giraffa

  Giraffa tippelskirchi

  Giraffa reticulata

  Giraffa camelopardalis  

Living giraffes were originally classified as one species by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, under the binomial name Cervus camelopardalis. Morten Thrane Brünnich classified the genus Giraffa in 1772. [6] Once considered a subspecies of the conglomerate Giraffa camelopardalis species, recent studies proposed the southern giraffe as a separate species of a reorganised genus Giraffa , under the binomial name Giraffa giraffa. [4] [7] However, the taxonomic scheme has been criticized, and currently the IUCN recognizes only one species of giraffe with nine subspecies. [2] [3]

Carl Linnaeus Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist

Carl Linnaeus, also known after his ennoblement as Carl von Linné, was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. He is known as the "father of modern taxonomy". Many of his writings were in Latin, and his name is rendered in Latin as Carolus Linnæus.

Taxonomy (biology) The science of identifying, describing, defining and naming groups of biological organisms

In biology, taxonomy is the science of naming, defining (circumscribing) and classifying groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics. Organisms are grouped together into taxa and these groups are given a taxonomic rank; groups of a given rank can be aggregated to form a super-group of higher rank, thus creating a taxonomic hierarchy. The principal ranks in modern use are domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus is regarded as the founder of the current system of taxonomy, as he developed a system known as Linnaean taxonomy for categorizing organisms and binomial nomenclature for naming organisms.

<i>Cervus</i> A genus of mammals belonging to the deer, muntjac, roe deer, reindeer, and moose family of ruminants

Cervus is a genus of deer that primarily are native to Eurasia, although one species occurs in northern Africa and another in North America. In addition to the species presently placed in this genus, it has included a whole range of other species now commonly placed in other genera, but some of these should perhaps be returned to Cervus. Additionally, the species-level taxonomy is in a state of flux.

Subspecies

Two subspecies of southern giraffe are proposed.

Proposed Subspecies of Southern giraffe
SubspeciesDescriptionImage
Angolan giraffe (G. g. angolensis), also known as Namibian giraffeIs found in northern Namibia, south-western Zambia, Botswana, and western Zimbabwe. A 2009 genetic study on this subspecies suggests the northern Namib Desert and Etosha National Park populations each form a separate subspecies. [8] This subspecies has large brown blotches with edges that are either somewhat notched or have angular extensions. The spotting pattern extends throughout the legs but not the upper part of the face. The neck and rump patches tend to be fairly small. The subspecies also has a white ear patch. [9] :51 Around 13,000 animals are estimated to remain in the wild; and about 20 are kept in zoos. [4] Giraffa camelopardalis -Zambia-8.jpg
South African giraffe (G. g. giraffa), also known as Cape giraffeIs found in northern South Africa, southern Botswana, southern Zimbabwe, and south-western Mozambique. It has dark, somewhat rounded patches "with some fine projections" on a tawny background colour. The spots extend down the legs and get smaller. The median lump of males is less developed. [9] :52 Approximately 31,500 are estimated to remain in the wild, and around 45 are kept in zoos. [4] Giraffe standing.jpg

Descriptions

An Angolan giraffe in the savannahs of Etosha National Park, Namibia. Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis.jpg
An Angolan giraffe in the savannahs of Etosha National Park, Namibia.

The Cape subspecies of the southern giraffe has dark, somewhat rounded patches "with some fine projections" on a tawny background colour. The spots extend down the legs and get smaller. The median lump of males is less developed. [9] :52

South African giraffe Subspecies of southern giraffe

The South African giraffe or Cape giraffe is a subspecies of giraffe ranging from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique. It has rounded or blotched spots, some with star-like extensions on a light tan background, running down to the hooves.

Distribution and habitat

The southern giraffes live in the savannahs and woodlands of northern South Africa, Angola, southern Botswana, southern Zimbabwe, Zambia and south-western Mozambique. After local extinctions in various places, the South African giraffes have been reintroduced in many parts of Southern Africa, including in Swaziland. They are common in both inside and outside of protected areas. [5]

Mozambique country in Africa

Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique, is a country located in Southeast Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Eswatini (Swaziland) and South Africa to the southwest. The sovereign state is separated from the Comoros, Mayotte and Madagascar by the Mozambique Channel to the east. The capital of Mozambique is Maputo while Matola is the largest city, being a suburb of Maputo.

Ecology and behavior

Southern giraffes usually live in savannahs and woodlands where food plants are available. Southern giraffes are herbivorous mammals. They feed on leaves, flowers, fruits and shoots of woody plants such as Acacia.

Threats

Southern giraffes are not threatened, as their population is increasing. [5]

Related Research Articles

Giraffidae A family of mammals belonging to even-toed ungulates

The Giraffidae are a family of ruminant artiodactyl mammals that share a common ancestor with cervids and bovids. This family, once a diverse group spread throughout Eurasia and Africa, presently comprises only two extant genera, the giraffe and the okapi. Both are confined to sub-Saharan Africa: the giraffe to the open savannas, and the okapi to the dense rainforest of the Congo. The two genera look very different on first sight, but share a number of common features, including a long, dark-coloured tongue, lobed canine teeth, and horns covered in skin, called ossicones.

Masai giraffe subspecies of giraffe

The Masai giraffe, also spelled Maasai giraffe, also called Kilimanjaro giraffe, is the largest subspecies of giraffe. It is native to East Africa. The Masai giraffe can be found in central and southern Kenya and in Tanzania. It has distinctive, irregular, jagged, star-like blotches which extend to the hooves. A median lump is usually present in males.

Northern giraffe species of mammal

The northern giraffe, also known as three-horned giraffe, is a proposed species of giraffe native to North Africa.

<i>Python</i> (genus) genus of reptiles

Python is a genus of constricting snakes in the Pythonidae family native to the tropics and subtropics of the Eastern Hemisphere.

Rothschilds giraffe subspecies of mammal

Rothschild's giraffe is a subspecies of the giraffe. It is one of the most endangered distinct populations of giraffe, with 1669 individuals estimated in the wild in 2016.

East African black mud turtle species of reptile

The East African black mud turtle, also known as the Pan terrapin, is a species of turtle in the family Pelomedusidae, native to eastern and southeastern Africa.

Red-tailed squirrel species of mammal

The red-tailed squirrel is a largish tree squirrel distributed from southern Central to northern South America.

A genetic isolate is population of organisms that has little genetic mixing with other organisms within the same species. This may result in speciation, but this is not necessarily the case. Genetic isolates may form new species in several ways:

Kordofan giraffe subspecies of giraffe

The Kordofan giraffe is a subspecies of giraffe found in northern Cameroon, southern Chad, Central African Republic and possibly western Sudan. Historically some confusion has existed over the exact range limit of this subspecies compared to the West African giraffe, with populations in e.g. northern Cameroon formerly assigned to the latter. Genetic work has also revealed that all "West African giraffe" in European zoos are in fact Kordofan giraffe. Compared to most other subspecies, the Kordofan giraffe is relatively small at 5 to 6 meters, with more irregular spots on the inner legs. Its English name is a reference to Kordofan in Sudan. There are around 2,000 individuals living in the wild.

Ramanantsoavanas woolly lemur species of mammal

Ramanantsoavana's woolly lemur, also known as Ramanantsoavana's avahi or the Manombo woolly lemur, is a species of woolly lemur native to southeastern Madagascar. It weighs about 1 kg. It was originally considered a subspecies of the southern woolly lemur, A. m. ramanantsoavana, but was elevated to a separate species in 2006 based on molecular, phenotypic and morphological data.

Bohlinia is an extinct genus of the artiodactyl family Giraffidae that lived during the late miocene in Europe and Africa. It was first named by the paleontologist Dr. W. Matthew in 1929, and contains two species, B. adoumi and B. attica. The species B. attica has been reclassified several times since its description being first named Camelopardalis attica and then reclassified as Giraffa attica.

West African giraffe subspecies of mammal

The West African giraffe, Niger giraffe or Nigerien giraffe is a subspecies of the giraffe distinguished by its light colored spots, which is found in the Sahel regions of West Africa.

Synodontis camelopardalis, known as the giraffe synodontis, is a species of upside-down catfish that is endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where it is only known to occur in the Tshuapa River. It was first described by Max Poll in 1971. The original specimens were obtained in Eala, on the Ruki River in the central Congo River Basin. The species name camelopardalis refers to the giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis, in reference to the coloration of the fish.

Rhodesian giraffe subspecies of mammal

The Rhodesian giraffe, more commonly known as Thornicroft’s giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe. It is sometimes deemed synonymous with the Luangwa giraffe. It is geographically isolated, occurring only in Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley. An estimated 550 live in the wild, with no captive populations. The lifespan of the Rhodesian giraffe is 22 years for males and 28 years for females. The ecotype was originally named after Harry Scott Thornicroft, a commissioner in what was then North-Western Rhodesia and later Northern Rhodesia.

Reticulated giraffe subspecies of giraffe

The reticulated giraffe, also known as the Somali giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe native to the Horn of Africa. It lives in Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. There are approximately 8,500 individuals living in the wild. The reticulated giraffe was described and given its binomial name by British zoologist William Edward de Winton in 1899, however the IUCN currently recognizes only one species of giraffe with nine subspecies.

Nubian giraffe subspecies of giraffe

The Nubian giraffe is the nominate subspecies of giraffe. It is found in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Sudan. It is currently extinct in the wild of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt and Eritrea. The Nubian giraffe used to be widespread everywhere on Northeast Africa. The subspecies was listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN in 2018.

Angolan giraffe Subspecies of southern giraffe

The Angolan giraffe, also known as Namibian giraffe, is a subspecies of giraffe that is found in northern Namibia, south-western Zambia, Botswana, and western Zimbabwe. A 2009 genetic study on this subspecies suggests the northern Namib Desert and Etosha National Park populations each form a separate subspecies. However, genetic studies based on mitochondrial DNA do not support the division into two subspecies., but could identify giraffe in southern Zimbabwe as Angolan giraffe, suggestion a further eastward distribution than expected.

References

  1. Lesson, R. (1842). The Southern or Two-horned giraffe (Giraffa capensis). Existing Forms of Giraffe (February 16, 1897): 14.
  2. 1 2 IUCN (2016). "Giraffa camelopardalis: Muller, Z., Bercovitch, F., Brand, R., Brown, D., Brown, M., Bolger, D., Carter, K., Deacon, F., Doherty, J.B., Fennessy, J., Fennessy, S., Hussein, A.A., Lee, D., Marais, A., Strauss, M., Tutchings, A. & Wube, T.". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. doi:10.2305/iucn.uk.2016-3.rlts.t9194a51140239.en.
  3. 1 2 Bercovitch, Fred B.; Berry, Philip S.M.; Dagg, Anne; Deacon, Francois; Doherty, John B.; Lee, Derek E.; Mineur, Frédéric; Muller, Zoe; Ogden, Rob (2017-02-20). "How many species of giraffe are there?". Current Biology. 27 (4): R136–R137. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.039. ISSN   0960-9822. PMID   28222287.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Fennessy J.; Bidon T.; Reuss F.; Kumar V.; Elkan P.; Nilsson M.A.; Vamberger M.; Fritz U.; Janke A. (2016). "Multi-locus Analyses Reveal Four Giraffe Species Instead of One". Current Biology. 26 (18): 2543–2549. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.036. PMID   27618261.
  5. 1 2 3 Muller, Z.; Bercovitch, F.; Brand, R.; Brown, D.; Brown, M.; Bolger, D.; Carter, K.; Deacon, F.; Doherty, J.B.; Fennessy, J.; Fennessy, S.; Hussein, A.A.; Lee, D.; Marais, A.; Strauss, M.; Tutchings, A. & Wube, T. (2016). "Giraffa camelopardalis". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2016: e.T9194A109326950. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T9194A51140239.en . Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  6. Dagg, A. I. (1971). "Giraffa camelopardalis" (PDF). Mammalian Species. 5 (5): 1–8. doi:10.2307/3503830. JSTOR   3503830.
  7. Brown, David M.; Brenneman, Rick A.; Koepfli, Klaus-Peter; Pollinger, John P.; Milá, Borja; Georgiadis, Nicholas J.; Louis, Edward E.; Grether, Gregory F.; Jacobs, David K. (2007-01-01). "Extensive population genetic structure in the giraffe". BMC Biology. 5: 57. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-5-57. ISSN   1741-7007. PMC   2254591 . PMID   18154651.
  8. Brenneman, R. A.; Louis, E. E. Jr; Fennessy, J. (2009). "Genetic structure of two populations of the Namibian giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis angolensis". African Journal of Ecology. 47 (4): 720–28. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2028.2009.01078.x.
  9. 1 2 3 Seymour, R. (2002) The taxonomic status of the giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis (L. 1758), PH.D Thesis