Scientific Name: Litocranius walleri
IUCN Status: Near Threatened
Quick Fact: gerenuk means “giraffe-necked” in Somali
Learn More: Visit the African Wildlife Foundation to learn more about this unique species
There are numerous small antelope found throughout Africa that are easily overlooked and often cryptic in their habits. The gerenuk, also called the giraffe gazelle or Waller’s gazelle, is an unforgettable antelope with the ability to rear up and stand on its hind legs to reach tender leaves and buds from trees and shrubs on which it browses. Their long neck and legs are uniquely adapted to forage in this manner allowing the gerenuk to feed on plant food sources unavailable to other herbivores. They live in small family groups and are not uncommon throughout East Africa.
Management of gerenuk in captivity has been a challenge due to their shy nature and unique dietary requirements and because little was known of their exact nutritional requirements. White Oak has devoted significant effort to managing the species in captivity and to studying their habits and biology. Through research projects in nutrition, behavior, assisted reproduction, genetics, and endocrinology, scientists and students at White Oak have learned much about the species over the last two decades.
In partnership with the US Department of Agriculture and the Ol Jogi Ranch in Laikipia, Kenya, White Oak and partner SEZARC are working to develop protocols and processes to import frozen gerenuk semen collected from wild caught males captured and released in Kenya. Studying and supporting conservation of gerenuk in Kenya provides direct links to the captive population and our work and staff here at White Oak.
In 2010, White Oak became the only facility in the world to produce gerenuk via artificial insemination (AI) when in late February four female calves were born. Recently, White Oak and partner SEZARC artificially inseminated one of the original calves, making thesecond generation of AI calves possible.