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Gerenuk

[ger-uh-nook, guh-ren-uhk]

Gerenuks, Litocranius walleri, are a type of antelope/gazelle with remarkably long necks that are found in East Africa. The gerenuk is also known as Waller's Gazelle. The word Gerenuk comes from the Somali language, meaning “giraffe-necked”.

Gerenuks have a small head for their body, but their eyes and ears are big. Unlike females, males have horns and a more muscular neck. They are brown on their back, and lighter underneath. They have short, black tails. From head to tail, the gerenuk is around 150 cm long. Males are a little taller than females, ranging from 89-105 cm, and the females are 80-100 cm. The male is also heavier than the female, weighing at 100lbs, and females are 68lbs.

Gerenuks eat food from higher places rather than from closer to the ground like other gazelles and antelopes eat. They do this by standing up on their hind legs, and stretching out their long necks to get food off of tall bushes. Most of their diet is made up of tender leaves and shoots of prickly bushes and trees, but also includes buds, flowers, fruit, and climbing plants. Gerenuks don’t need grass or water, because they get enough water from the plants that they eat. Because of this, gerenuks can survive in dry thorn-bush county.

They can mate during anytime of the year. Females reach sexual maturity at one year, and males reach sexual maturity at 1.5 years. A mother carries her child for about seven months. They are born one at a time, weighing about 6.5 lbs at birth. Their life span is about eight years in the wild, but they can live thirteen years or more in captivity.

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