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Lightmatter gerenuk.jpg
Female gerenuk
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Antilopinae
Genus: Litocranius
Kohl, 1886
Species: L. walleri
Binomial name
Litocranius walleri
(Brooke, 1878)
Gerenuk Litocranius walleri distribution map.png
Gerenuk range.[2]

The gerenuk /ˈɡɛrɛnk/, Litocranius walleri, also known as the Waller's gazelle, is a long-necked species of antelope found in dry thorn shrubland and desert in the Horn of Africa and the African Great Lakes region. The word gerenuk comes from the word in the Somali language, Garanuug, meaning "giraffe-necked". Gerenuk are sometimes also called the giraffe-necked antelope. It is the sole member of the genus Litocranius.

Physical description[edit]

From head to tail, the gerenuk is around 1.50 metres (4 ft 11 in) long. Males are a little taller than females, at 0.89–1.05 m (2 ft 11 in–3 ft 5 in) tall, with the females typically 0.80–1.00 m (2 ft 7 in–3 ft 3 in) tall. The male is also heavier than the female, weighing 45 kilograms (99 lb), while females weigh around 30 kg (66 lb).

Gerenuks have a relatively small head for their body, but their eyes and ears are proportionately large. Only the males have horns and they also have a more muscular neck than females. Both sexes have ruddy brown coats with a paler underbelly. They have short, black tipped tails. The gerenuk is easily recognizable by its distinctive long, slender neck which can be elongated further if need be for activities like feeding off the taller brambles and undergrowth of the desert. It also has remarkably long, slender legs which are another great advantage as they can gallop away into the distance at very high speeds from any form of predator trying to attack.


Gerenuks feeding

Gerenuks seldom graze but browse on prickly bushes and trees, such as acacias. They can reach higher branches and twigs than other gazelles and antelope by standing erect on their rear legs and elongating their necks. They appear to favour the more tender leaves and shoots, but will also eat buds, flowers, fruit, and herbaceous plants.[3] Gerenuks do not appear to drink water; they get enough water from the plants they eat. Because of this, they can survive in very dry habitats. Gerenuks are often prey for lions, cheetahs, jackals and leopards.


Gerenuk reproduce throughout the year. Females reach sexual maturity at around one year, and males reach sexual maturity at 1.5 years, although in the wild they may only be successful after acquiring a territory (perhaps 3.5 years).[3] The gestation period is about seven months. They are born one at a time, weighing about 3 kg (6.6 lb) at birth. Offspring were produced through artificial insemination for the first time in 2010 at White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida. Four female calves were born, and one of the four was later inseminated successfully by White Oak and SEZARC (South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction & Conservation), creating a second generation of calves born from artificial insemination.[4] Gerenuk can live 13 years or more in captivity, and at least eight years in the wild.[3]


  • Southern gerenuk, Litocranius walleri walleri
  • Northern gerenuk, Litocranius walleri sclateri


  1. ^ IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). "Litocranius walleri". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 21 June 2012. 
  2. ^ IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) 2008. Litocranius walleri. In: IUCN 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. Downloaded on 10 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Leuthold, Walter (1978). "Ecology of the gerenuk Litocranius walleri". Journal of Animal Ecology 47 (2): 561–580. doi:10.2307/3801. JSTOR 3801. 
  4. ^ "One of our member institutions working with assisted reproductive techniques". Conservation Centers for Species Survival. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 

External links[edit]