Scientists discover unusual ‘dwarf’ giraffes in Africa
Giraffes are known to be the tallest mammals on earth but it would seem not all of them were born with the height advantage. Scientists have discovered two giraffes who can be considered as “dwarves” against their counterparts.
Two giraffes found in different areas of Africa are way shorter than other giraffes. The director and co-founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), Julian Fennessy, has told Reuters that they were “very surprised.”
The usual height of a giraffe is between 15 to 20 feet. This is approximately 4.5 to six metres. However, in 2018, scientists discovered two short giraffes. One was 8.5 feet tall or 2.6 metres tall, and the other was 9 feet and 3 inches or 2.8 metres tall. The 8-foot tall giraffe was discovered in Namibia while the latter was discovered in Uganda. The study of the GCF researchers was published in BMC Research Notes at the end of December, which was regarded as the first known accounts of dwarf giraffes in scientific papers.
According to the GCF, the Ugandan dwarf giraffe was found at the Murchison Falls National Park, while the one in Namibia was found at a private farm. The discovery came about during a routine photographic survey of GCF.
Africa Geographic reported that the researchers used digital photogrammetry techniques to measure the limb dimension of the two dwarf giraffes. They found that the dwarf giraffes had shorter legs. The specific bones that were shorter were the radius and metacarpal bones.
Dr. Michael Brown, the lead author of the study, revealed that the condition of the bones of the dwarf giraffes was called skeletal dysplasias. The instances where wild animals suffer from this is “extraordinarily rare.” The Ugandan dwarf giraffe was named “Gimli” and the Namibian one was named “Nigel.”
According to the GCF, giraffes have already experienced a significant decline in population over the past 30 years. It has led to a silent extinction crisis. The estimate of GCF was that about 111,000 giraffes remain in the wild in Africa at present. An estimated 40 percent decline in population was noted mostly due to habitat loss, a growing population of humans, and also habitat fragmentation. Fennessy also added that a little bit of poaching and climate change also contributed to the decline.