独自在草原上 Solo on the savannah
A giraffe in Maasai Mara, Kenya
Our lonely giant is silhouetted on the Maasai Mara, or just 'The Mara' to locals. It's a large national game reserve in Kenya, and one of the world's most important wildlife conservation areas. The preserve was established in 1961 and is contiguous with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania—together, the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, protects some 9,700 square miles. In addition to our friend the giraffe, the Maasai Mara is home to large populations of elephants, lions, cheetahs, rhinos, wildebeest, hippos, crocodiles, zebras, and many more creatures.
While some zoologists consider the Masai giraffe its own species, most authorities recognize just one species of giraffe with nine subspecies. Masai giraffes like this one are the tallest of those, with males reaching heights of more than 18 feet. They range from southern Kenya, south through the Serengeti, and through all of Tanzania. Though not considered endangered by the Union for Conservation of Nature, all giraffes are a 'vulnerable' species, and some of the subspecies may be nearly extinct.
Until the late 19th century, giraffes were commonly known as cameleopards, due to the mistaken belief that a giraffe was a cross between a camel and leopard. But if you've ever tried to get a camel and a leopard to even go on a first date, you'd know how unlikely this is.
Wildebeest on the move
Each year, as many as 1.5 million blue wildebeest move through the Serengeti region of eastern Africa, traveling in a roughly 800-mile loop through Tanzania and Kenya as they chase lush, green grass and fresh water. When resources are depleted in one area, the animals move to another. Late summer often finds them Kenya's Maasai Mara nature reserve, shown on today's homepage. The speedy wildebeest (the species can run up to 50 mph!) is not alone in its journey; hundreds of thousands of zebras, gazelles, and elands accompany the herd. The great number of animals makes this phenomenon one of the largest land migrations on Earth, often called the World Cup of Wildlife.