Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin


Litocranius walleri


Gerenuk weighs about 29-58 kg and has long neck and long, thin legs. The fur of this animal is short, fine, glossy pale tawny brown with white on the underbelly and inner legs. The tip of the tail and the knees of the forelegs have small, dark patches of fur. The head is long and narrow with medium sized ears. The eyes are rimmed by white fur. Male gerenuk have scimitar shaped horns measuring 25-44cm in length.


The gerenuk is found in the dry bushy region of east Africa from the Serengeti plains of Tanzania north along the coast through Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and into southern Somalia. This species adapts well in a variety of habitats that have abundant succulent vegetation. Males are solitary and very territorial, only associating with females during breeding. Females form bands of up to 10 individuals, usually related, and roam freely throughout male territories.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Gerenuks feed on over 80 different species of plants. They are adapted for foraging in arid habitats, their long legs, necks and ability to stand on their hind legs allows this species to consume leaves from trees that are out of reach for other antelope species. Gerenuks do not drink water, instead they rely on water consumed when they eat succulent plants.


Male gerenuk mate with multiple females. To attract a female, males will display his horns and neck in a sideways pose. If he is accepted by a female, the male will mark the female’s thigh using secretions from his preorbital gland and then guard her from other males. As the male guards the female from other males he continues to kick her in the thighs. When the female urinates, the male performs a flehmen/ lip curl test to determine if the female is in estrous. One hundred sixty five days after mating, a female will produce a single fawn that is able to walk within minutes of birth. Female young are weaned at 1 year of age while males are weaned at about 1.5 years of age and continue to stay with their mother until they are two.  Females breed every 1-2 years depending on the sex of their previous offspring.

Months and Times of Activity

Gerenuks are primarily active during the day.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

•    This species has extra vertebrae that allow them to stand on their hind legs (like humans) over 6ft, 7 in tall while foraging.

•    To read legends featuring this animal go to;

•    Children’s book featuring this animal: Zooprise Party by REbekha Delgado


Payne, Jamie. "Home About Us About Animal Names Teaching Resources Special Collections Glossary

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Payne, J. 2003. "Litocranius walleri" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2014 at