You might recall that I have a colouring book called Curious Creatures. I wrote a blog about one such creature recently – the Coconut Crab. Well, over this last weekend I began a new picture. At first, I thought it was of wild goats, known as ibex. However, when I looked at the index in the back of the book, I discovered that what I am colouring are in fact gerenuks. Having never heard of these creatures, I thought it would be nice to devote today’s blog to them.
Gerenuks are also known as giraffe gazelles – and you can see why from the pictures above and to the right. They have long necks and are very elegant to look at. Gerenuks live in Africa, specifically the Horn of Africa and the African Great Lakes Region. Their name, gerenuk (which is pronounced jeer-ar-nuck) is Somalian for ‘giraffe-necked’.
You can easily tell a male from a female as only males have the S-shaped horns. They tend to form small herds, usually of the same sex with only a handful of members. Some males lead solitary lives. They spend the day mainly foraging and feeding, and are reluctant to get into any scuffles with each other. Their territory is reasonably small too – around 4 or 5 square kilometres, and they prefer to stay put rather than travel around. All in all, they are quite sedentary creatures!
They will eat all kinds of flora, but their especial favourite is the acacia. They have an advantage over other antelopes – they are able to stand on their hind legs and stretch up with their long necks to the higher branches, reaching as much as 2 metres from the ground.
Two unusual things about gerenuks. First, they rarely drink water and get all the necessary moisture from the food they eat. Second, they are described as humble as they ordinarily will help each other out. Tribal tales denote the gerenuk as the ‘queen of humbleness’.
I hope you enjoyed learning about these beautiful animals. No doubt I’ll be writing more blogs about ‘Curious Creatures’ as I come across them in my drawing book!