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The giraffe''s high shoulders and sloping back give the impression that its front legs are much longer than the hind legs, but they are in fact only slightly longer. The giraffe (as well as its short-necked relative the okapi from Central African forests) has a distinctive walking gait, mountains moving both legs on one side forward at the same time. At a gallop, however, the gait changes, and the giraffe simultaneously swings the hind legs ahead of and outside the front legs, reaching speeds of 35 miles an hour. Its heavy head moves forward with each powerful stride, and then swings back to stay balanced. Giraffes have "horns" not true horns but knobs covered with skin and hair above the eyes to protect the head from blows. The reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) of northeastern Kenya has large, chestnut-colored square patches defined by a network of fine white lines.

The giraffe''s high shoulders and sloping back give the impression that its front legs are much longer than the hind legs, but they are in fact only slightly longer. The giraffe (as well as its short-necked relative the okapi from Central African forests) has a distinctive walking gait, mountains moving both legs on one side forward at the same time. At a gallop, however, the gait changes, and the giraffe simultaneously swings the hind legs ahead of and outside the front legs, reaching speeds of 35 miles an hour. Its heavy head moves forward with each powerful stride, and then swings back to stay balanced. Giraffes have "horns" not true horns but knobs covered with skin and hair above the eyes to protect the head from blows. The reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) of northeastern Kenya has large, chestnut-colored square patches defined by a network of fine white lines.

The larger Baringo or Rothschild''s giraffe (G.c. rothschildi) of western Kenya and eastern Uganda has chestnut patches separated by broader white lines but no spotting below the knees. This mountains species can have up to five horns instead of the usual two or three. The Masai giraffe (G.c. tippelskirchi) of Tanzania and southern Kenya has irregular star-shaped brown or tan spots. Giraffes are found in arid and dry-savanna zones south of the Sahara, wherever trees occur. Although a relatively quiet animal, the giraffe is not mute. Giraffes bellow, grunt, bray in distress, moan and emit short flutelike notes. They have acute senses of hearing and sight, often alerting other animals to nearby predators. Giraffes use a home range but are not territorial. The males are hierarchical and sometimes mountains spar by standing side by side and lowering and swing their heads at one another. The blows can be so strong that their necks entwine.



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