Gerenuk, Litocranius walleri

The gerenuk (Litocranius walleri) is a species of antelope that is also called Waller’s gazelle or the giraffe-necked antelope. It can be found in East Africa with a range stretching from eastern Ethiopia and Somalia, to eastern and northern areas of Kenya to northeastern Tanzania. It is the only member in its genus. This species holds two recognized subspecies.

The gerenuk ranges in size between sexes, with males reaching an average weight of 99 pounds and a height of 41 inches, while females reach an average weight of 66 pounds with a height of 39 inches. The coat is typically reddish brown in color, with black fur on the tail. The underbelly is paler in color than the rest of the body.

The gerenuk is able to breed year round. The pregnancy period lasts up to seven months, after which one young is born. Females reach sexual maturity at 1.5 years, while males most likely reach sexual maturity only after they have acquired territory, which can be up to 3.5 years. In the wild, this species can live eight years in the wild and up to 13 years in captivity.

The diet of the gerenuk consists of tree vegetation, mainly that of the acacia. The high vegetation can be reached when it stands on its hind legs and stretches its neck upwards. Although young shoots and leaves are preferred, fruits, buds, and flowers are also consumed, and occasionally grasses. This species does not seem to consume water, so it is thought that it gains hydration from the plants in its diet. This allows it to live in arid habitats. It is often prey to lions, leopards, jackals, and cheetahs. The gerenuk appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Near Threatened.”

Image Caption: Gerenuks (Litocranius walleri) in the Samburu National Park – Kenya. Credit: frederic.salein/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)