The northern part of Kenya has some unique animals that aren’t found in other parts of the country. One of the oddest is the Gerenuk, aka Giraffe gazelle. The word gerenuk means “giraffe-necked” in the Somali language. They are fairly small with mature males weighing about 100 pounds and females around 65. Gerenuks are only found in central and eastern Africa. They are rather shy so the opportunities to photograph them have not been great over the years. However, on this trip we did see quite a few. The following images were taken in the reserve on my recent trip.
(Click on the images below to enlarge)
Gerenuks are browsers. They don’t eat grass and seldom drink water getting most of their moisture through the plants that they eat. By standing on their back legs and using their front legs to pull branches down they can reach up 6-8 feet into a bush to get food that most of their competitors can’t reach.
Unlike most antelopes only the male Gerenuk have horns. However, like several other species of antelope the males have pre-orbital glands in front of their eyes that emit a tar-like, scent bearing substance that they deposit on twigs and bushes to mark their territory, and use to mark their potential mates. They also have scent glands on their knees and between their hooves that are covered by tufts of hair.
Gerenuks are a bit anti-social preferring to stay in small groups or on their own. Males and females tend to separate except when mating. I’ve never seen more than a half dozen together. The fawns are particularly cute with their big eyes and ears. All in all a very unique and interesting animal.
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