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Giraffe - The Facts

How long do giraffe live?

We don't really know how long giraffe live in the wild as there is no recorded evidence. We believe that both male (bulls) and female (cows) giraffe can live to about 25 years in the wild and even longer in captivity. In our long-term conservation project in North-West Namibia we now know that some giraffe that were first identified in the year 2000 and were sub-adults then, are still alive today - making them the oldest recorded giraffe in the wild.

However, even the world’s tallest animal has enemies. Giraffe mortality rates vary from region to region dependant on density of natural predators. Even adult male giraffe are predated by lions, while sub-adults and calves are particularly vulnerable and can also be taken by hyena, leopard, wild dog and crocodile. 

As an example, the infant mortality rate in the Serengeti (G.c. tippelskirchi or Masai giraffe) for one month old giraffe calves is over 20% while some 50% of calves do not survive their first 6 months. This figure has reached nearly 60% by the end of the first year in the Serengeti, dropping to 8% in the second year and just 3% in the third.

Once mature, the defensive kick of an adult giraffe is enough to seriously damage even the most determined predator, and many a lion has succumbed to the fierceness of their soup bowl size hooves.