How to identify male and female giraffes

Giraffe are always a big favourite with guests of Tanda Tula Safari Camp. These tall, elegant animals are well adapted to make the most of their bush environment.

To distinguish males from females, we show our guests that by looking at their horns you are able to identify each. The females horns will be fairly thin at the end with a very distinct black tuft. The male on the other hand, has very thick horns and is bald on the top of each horn. The structure of these horns is very different to that of the antelope family.

When a giraffe is born they are almost identical in every way to that of an adult and their horns are already present. The horns are made up of cartilage when born, but through gradual bone deposits they become solid bone and fuse with the skull. The horns themselves are called ossicles.

The males will get further deposits in front and just behind their horns which gives the head weight. The head effectively becomes a club. When bulls fight, they come up against each other and swing their heads and necks at each other trying to deliver a crushing blow to show their dominance. They can do major damage to each other in these battles.

The male pictured below has a badly damaged horn as a result of fighting. They are very hardy animals and fatal injuries are rare but do occur. Not long ago, our safari camp ranger Foreman was lucky enough to witness a bull being knocked out cold by another. He came around shortly afterwards and didn’t look to have suffered any ill effects from the blow.

Male Giraffe

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