Both sexes of gerenuk are of similar size, but the males are more muscular than females causing them to outweigh them.
Gerenuk have never been an abundant species and make up less than 0.5% of the total biomass of hoofed mammals in Tsavo National Park where it is a protected species and enjoys good habitat.
The gerenuk was first described by Victor Brooke in 1879 and the species was named after the specimen-provider Gerald Waller’s deceased brother.
Male gerenuks guard their mates and perform flehmen tests, or lip curl tests, by sampling the female’s urine to check for estrous.
Gerenuk mothers look after their young until their weaned, and male offspring are weaned later than females.
Female gerenuks give birth to 1 offspring, rarely 2, after a gestation period of 165 days, any time throughout the year depending on the quality of available nutrition.
Do you think you know the gerenuk? Test your knowledge of gerenuk FaunaFacts with this trivia quiz!
Gerenuks have a polygynous mating system as males will attempt to mate with as many females as they can.
The gerenuk is adaptable and does well in a variety of habitats, inhabiting dry savanna and subtropical/tropical dry shrubland habitats.
The gerenuk inhabits the dry, brushy region of east Africa from the Serengeti plain of Tanzania north along the coast through Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and into southern Somalia.
As a game animal, the gerenuk is protected in most of its range in the form of tags or permits, and about 10% of the gerenuk population occurs in protected areas.
Although it has a limited population and range, the gerenuk has been hunted for trophies and bush meat as an uncommon game animal in Africa for over 200 years.
If current trends continue, the gerenuk may eventually disappear from large parts of its present distribution due to hunting, human encroachment, deforestation, civil conflicts, agricultural expansion, and drought.
The gerenuk population is decreasing and the largest surviving populations occur in south-western Ethiopia and the northern and eastern rangelands of Kenya.
Although the gerenuk is currently “Near Threatened”, it’s close to meeting the threshold for “Vulnerable” due to a decline of 25% over the last 14 years.
Two gerenuk subspecies are recognized, the southern gerenuk or Scalter’s gazelle, and the larger, northern gerenuk, also known as the Waller’s gazelle.
The gerenuk doesn’t do well in captivity and has rarely been bred in zoos.
Although rare, gerenuk contribute to nutrient cycling in the ecosystems in which they live through their foraging activities.
Gerenuk have become a regular subject in the expanding world of photo-safaris and parks in Africa and help promote ecotourism.
Gerenuk have evolved several anti-predator adaptations for survival as juveniles and adults, such as remaining motionless, hiding in foliage, and freezing at the approach of danger.
The gerenuk is one of the world’s most recognizable antelopes due to its defining features, and is known as the “giraffe gazelle” due to its long neck and long, thin legs.
The gerenuk is diurnal and primarily active during the day.
Gerenuk young are precocial and begin to walk within minutes of birth.
Only male gerenuks have head ornamentation in the form of scimitar shaped horns ranging from 25 to 44 cm. in length.
There are no adverse effects of gerenuk on humans.
Because they do not form large populations and their food is of limited supply, gerenuk exhibit strange social interactions as males are solitary and territorial and females are social and form small groups.
The gerenuk’s coat is of a pale tawny brown, short, fine, glossy hair that is evenly distributed over the whole body.
Gerenuk are preyed on by a diverse set of large predators, such as cheetahs, leopards, lions, African wild dogs, hyaenas, servals, honey badgers, caracals, and eagles.
The gerenuk’s common name derives from the Somali name for the animal, gáránúug.
The gerenuk is one of the most exclusive browsers because it has the ability to stand on its lengthy hind legs and use its long neck to obtain tree leaves that are out of reach for most other antelope species.
The gerenuk is largely independent of water and does not drink free-standing water, instead relying on water taken in when eating succulent plants.