|Nubian giraffes at Al Ain Zoo, United Arab Emirates.|
G. c. camelopardalis
|Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis|
|Range in purple|
G. c. rothschildi
The Nubian giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis) 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.
Taxonomy and evolution
The IUCN currently recognizes only one species of giraffe with nine subspecies, one of which is the Nubian giraffe. The Nubian giraffe, along with the whole species, were first known by the binomen Cervus camelopardalis described by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus in the Systema Naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis in 1758. He described the giraffe from Ethiopia or Sennar of Eastern Sudan.
A 2016 analysis of giraffe subspecies proposed the Rothschild's giraffe (G. c. rothschildi) could be considered a conspecific ecotype of the Nubian giraffe, however these results are not definitive.
Following Linnaeus's description of the Nubian giraffe, several specimens were described by other naturalists and zoologists since the end of the 18th century under different scientific names, which are all considered synonyms of Giraffa camelopardalis camelopardalis today:
- G. c. aethiopicus by Ogilby, 1836
- G. c. senaariensis by Trouessart, 1898
- G. c. typica by Bryden, 1899
- G. c. rothschildi by Lydekker, 1903
- G. c. congoensis by Lydekker, 1903
The Nubian giraffe has sharply defined chestnut-colored spots surrounded by mostly white lines, while undersides lack spotting. The median lump is particularly developed in the male giraffe.
Giraffes occurred everywhere in Africa; the Nubian giraffe was widespread throughout North Africa, from Kenya to Egypt. The giraffe lives in savannahs and woodlands. The Nubian giraffe currently lives in eastern South Sudan and southwestern Ethiopia, and isolated pockets in Uganda and Kenya. It was estimated in 2010 that fewer than 250 live in the wild, although this number was uncertain. However, as of 2016, it was recently estimated that 2,150 Nubian giraffes live in the wild, 1,500 of those of the Rothschild's ecotype.
The Nubian giraffe is, due to the introduction of the Rothschild's giraffe into its subspecies, is one of the most common giraffe types present in captivity, in conjunction with the reticulated giraffe. However, the original phenotype is rare, as the Al Ain Zoo from the United Arab Emirates is the only known zoo outside of Africa to be breeding the endangered original phenotype. The Nubian giraffe is also breeding in captivity in Giza Zoo from Egypt.
- Zarafa (giraffe), the most famous of three Nubian giraffes gifted from Muhammad Ali of Egypt to European rulers in 1827
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