Recent research by GCF and partners has clearly identified four distinct species of giraffe in Africa – Masai, southern, northern and Reticulated giraffe, with several subspecies.

All four giraffe species and their subspecies live in geographically distinct areas throughout Africa. While some of these species have been reported to hybridise in zoos, there is very little evidence that this occurs readily in the wild.

The four species concept is based on a long-term effort, spearheaded by GCF in collaboration with Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) in Germany and other partners, to unravel the mystery of giraffe genetics and taxonomy. GCF and partners have collected almost 1,000 DNA samples from all major giraffe populations across Africa. These new findings will be invaluable in informing future giraffe conservation throughout Africa.

All species and subspecies in numbers:

Masai giraffe Giraffa tippelskirchi 35,000
Northern giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis 5,600
    Kordofan giraffe G. c. antiquorum 2,000
    Nubian giraffe G. c. camelopardalis 3,000
    West African giraffe G. c. peralta 600
Reticulated giraffe Giraffa reticulata 15,780
Southern giraffe Giraffa giraffa 54,750
    Angolan giraffe G. g. angolensis 17,750
    South African giraffe G. g. giraffa 37,000