The Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri), also known as the Waller's Gazelle, is a long-necked species of antelope found in dry bushy scrub and steppe in East Africa. The word Gerenuk comes from the Somali language, meaning “giraffe-necked”, and leads to another common name, the Giraffe-necked Antelope. It is the only member of the genus Litocranius.
Gerenuks have a small head for their body, but their eyes and ears are big. Unlike females, males have horns and a more muscular neck. They are brown on their back, and lighter underneath. They have short, black tails. From head to tail, the gerenuk is around 150 cm long. Males are a little taller than females, ranging from 89-105 cm, and the females are 80-100 cm. The male is also heavier than the female, weighing at 45 kg, and females are 30 kg.
Gerenuks eat food from higher places than most other gazelles and antelopes. They do this by standing up on their hind legs, and stretching out their long necks to get food off of tall bushes or small trees. Most of their diet is made up of tender leaves and shoots of prickly bushes and trees, but also includes buds, flowers, fruit, and climbing plants. Gerenuks do not need to drink, because they get enough water from the plants they eat. Because of this, they can survive in their dry habitat.
They can mate during any time of the year. Females reach sexual maturity at one year, and males reach sexual maturity at 1.5 years. The gestation period is about seven months. They are born one at a time, weighing about 3 kg at birth. Their life span is about eight years in the wild, but they can live thirteen years or more in captivity.
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