Scientific Name: Litocranius walleri
Gerenuk means ‘giraffe-necked’ in the Somali language.
Although these beautiful and graceful antelopes were not known to European scientists until 1898, they have been represented in ancient Egyptian art since 5600 B.C.
STATUS: Gerenuks are common, but declining in number because they are hunted for their skins. They are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
HABITAT: Gerenuks live in East Africa in the dry, brushy areas of Somalia, eastern Ethiopia and Kenya.
DIET: Gerenuks browse in small herds and are picky eaters. With their long necks and nimble lips, gerenuks reach into middle branches and pull off the tender leaves, flowers, and a few kinds of fruit unavailable to the taller giraffe or the shorter dik-dik. They may even stand on their hind legs to get a better nibble. A gerenuk will not eat grass or herbs.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Standing about 28 to 37 inches at the shoulders and weighing 62 to 115 pounds, gerenuks are a medium-sized gazelle with long, slender legs and neck. On their small, wedge-shaped heads are two very large ears and big brown eyes placed well to the side. Only the males will have 14 to 17 inch long horns that hook forward at the tips.
Freeze or Flight?
Gerenuks are shy, slight creatures. When threatened or preyed upon, a gerenuk may stand very still behind a bush or a tree and slowly creep away with its head lowered, or gallop toward a place of safety. Although these antelopes are not particularly fast, they are difficult to chase because they dart in, around, and between the desert bushes and trees.