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 giraffeGiraffa tippelskirchi35,000
Northern giraffeGiraffa camelopardalis5,600
    Kordofan giraffeG. c. antiquorum2,000
    Nubian giraffeG. c. camelopardalis3,000
    West African giraffeG. c. peralta600
Reticulated giraffeGiraffa reticulata15,780
Southern giraffeGiraffa giraffa54,750
    Angolan giraffeG. g. angolensis17,750
    South African giraffeG. g. giraffa37,000