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Giraffes have intrigued mankind with their unusual yet graceful appearance. However, little is known about the species and it has been somewhat neglected by scientists. It is estimated that there are only 80,000 giraffes left in Africa and the species has already gone extinct in at least seven countries.

   This gentle giant lacks the attitude and reputation of the rhino, the human-like traits of the gorilla, the intelligence of the elephant and the elusive nature of the pangolin, and so is overshadowed by these supermodels of conservation and could very well disappear before our eyes; loping silently into extinction.

   The giraffe’s long neck is equipped to fill an ecological niche above the average bushveld browsing line; setting it a stretch above the rest as it twists its tongue around tricky acacia thorns. The species has further evolved into regional variances: the giraffe, like the Asian tiger, has nine different subspecies, two of which are now classified as endangered.

   Browse this issue to find fascinating facts about the nine different giraffe subspecies and their closest living relative, the okapi. The nine subspecies are listed in order of rarity.

   Cover image by Frederick van Heerden To see more of Frederick's photos, take a look at his Facebook page.

About the author

Photo-1GEORGINA LOCKWOOD grew up escaping Johannesburg city to go horse-back riding in the Magaliesberg mountains or Land Rovering in the Madikwe sand veld. Accustomed to the sun on her face and the wind in her hair, Georgina embarked as a trainee sailor on a three-masted barque to travel the world beyond her beloved Southern Africa. Ship life steered her to remote destinations and ecological treasure houses like the Galapagos, Pitcairn Island and Polynesia. Once grounded, her love of the outdoors developed into a deep respect for the environment and a desire to preserve it. Georgina is newly graduated from the University of Cape Town with a degree in Environmental Science.