Feature Creature: Gerenuk


Tara Afshar, Journalist

Contrary to common belief, giraffes aren’t the only mammals who have adapted to have long necks. The Gerenuk, much like their much taller look alike, has a neck that slowly evolved in order to reach high up branches and a body similar to a gazelle. Also known as the Waller’s Gazelle, the Gerenuk lives in Africa and thrives in tropical savanna habitats. With their long necks, they can reach the tall savanna trees while also enjoying leaves, flowers, and other plants in their ecosystem.
When the gazelle like creature spots a predator, it tends to stand still to avoid detection due to its timid nature. Predators to a Gerenuk usually include cheetahs, leopards, and African wild dogs. Reproduction can happen year round and females only impregnate every two years, but is most common during the rainy season of Africa. The gestation period lasts for about seven months and afterwards, the calf tends to stay hidden for the majority of it’s childhood while being nursed by its mother. While only male Gerenuks have ringed horns, both genders leave messages behind for each other using their scent glands near the front of their eyes.
Unfortunately for most Gerenuks, survival threats are not only from predators in the savanna, but also from human. Due to human activity, the once stable population has disappeared in some locations around Africa, but it’s difficult to get an accurate number since a Gerenuk coat is almost camouflage. Over the past fourteen years, their population has dwindled down by 25%, but there are many solutions to a problem that had yet to happen. Population loss and fragmentation can be prevented by working with governments to preserve green space, as well as expanding conservation tourism among habitat areas for Gerenuks. Together, we can stop their habitat reduction and return them to their rightful homes.