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Taxonomy

Tragelaphus strepsiceros [Pallas, 1766]

  • Citation: Misc. Zool., p. 9
  • Type locality: South Africa, Cape of Good Hope; or Namibia, Gammafluss (= Lowen River)

The taxonomic record (above) is taken from Wilson and Reeder (1993). Invalid synonyms for Tragelaphus strepsiceros include abyssinicus, bea, burlacei, capensis, chora, cottoni, excelsus, frommi, hamiltoni, koodoo, torticornis, and zambesiensis (Wilsona nd Reeder, 1993).

General Characteristics

  • Body Length: 185-245 cm / 6.1-8.1 ft.
  • Shoulder Height: 100-160 cm / 3.2-5.2 ft.
  • Tail Length: 30-55 cm / 12-22 in.
  • Weight: 120-315 kg / 264-787 lb

The short, smooth coat varies in general colour from tan-grey to bluish grey in colour. There are numerous white markings, including 6-10 vertical stripes along the sides, a chevron between the eyes, and cheek spots. On the neck and shoulders is an erectile crest, while underneath a mane extends along the throat. The black-tipped, bushy tail is white underneath, and there are black garters on the upper legs. The ears of the greater kudu are large and round. The spiralled horns are found only in males and have up to 3 full turns, diverging slightly as they slant back from the head. They can grow 100-140 cm / 40-56 inches long.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

  • Gestation Period: 7-9 months
  • Young per Birth: 1
  • Weaning: After 6 months
  • Sexual Maturity: Females at 15-21 months, males at 21-24 months
  • Life span: Up to 23 years

Females separate themselves from the herd just before giving birth, leaving the calf lying in concealment. After the calf has matured slightly, the mother will return with her baby to the herd. The majority of births occur from January to March, the wet season.

Ecology and Behavior

Greater kudu may be active throughout the 24-hour day. The large ears are extremely sensitive to noise, making these shy antelope difficult to approach. Under normal circumstance, kudu will sneak away and hide from potential enemies. When startled, however, they flee with large jumps with their tails rolled upwards and forwards. Kudu often stop and look back after a running for a short distance - a frequently fatal habit. Despite their large size, kudu are accomplished jumpers, with records of heights of over 2.5 meters / 8.25 feet being cleared with ease. Herds disperse during the rainy season when food is plentiful, while as the dry season reaches its peak, there becomes a high concentration in favourable areas. Greater kudu are not territorial, although they do have ’home’ areas. Maternal herds have home ranges of approximately 4 square kilometers which overlap with those of other groups. Home ranges of adult males are about 11 square kilometers, and generally encompass the ranges of two or three female groups. Population densities vary from 1.9-3.2 animals per square kilometer. The spiral horns are so well developed for wrestling that they can sometimes become so severely interlocked that the two animals fighting cannot release each other, and thus both die. Greater kudu have a wide repertoire of vocalizations, including barks, grunts, hooting bleats, and a strangulated whimper.

  • Family group: Small single sex groups up to 10, though congregations of 20-30 individuals have been recorded
  • Diet: Leaves and grasses
  • Main Predators: Lion, Cape hunting dog, leopard

Distribution

Woodlands, scrub, and open forests up to 2,450 m / 8,000 ft in Eastern and Southern Africa.Countries: Angola, Botswana, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe (IUCN, 2002).

Conservation Status

The greater kudu is considered a low risk, conservation dependent species by the IUCN (2002), and is not listed by CITES.


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