Gerenuk: these tiny giraffe gazelle are endearing, somewhat comic and almost alien in appearance - and high on the safari bucket list
Africa boasts an impressive collection of over 70 antelope species. Some, like sable and gemsbok, are stately and proud. Others, like Impala and Springbok, are elegant and graceful. Bongo, Kudu, and Nyala are drop-dead gorgeous, and the little duikers are indisputably cute. And then there is the Gerenuk…
The BasicsIt’s probably somewhat unfair to label the Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri) strange or weird-looking. After all, we are perfectly happy to accept a five-ton animal with a prehensile nose or one that stands over four meters tall and has a purple tongue. Perhaps it is simply a matter of exposure – gerenuk very seldom has a starring role in nature documentaries, nor do they feature heavily in artistic photographs of Africa’s wildlife in all its glory. Yet, there is something captivating about the gerenuk that draws the eye and makes it difficult to look away. They are, for want of a better word, goofy.
Gerenuk seems, for all the world, as though some cosmic power took hold of an impala and stretched it vertically without adding any proportional width. Their necks are absurdly long, and this, combined with the unique ability to balance on slender hind legs unsupported, allows them to feed at heights of over two meters. To complete this bizarre image, they have disproportionately small heads, which only serve to make their eyes look enormous.