Greater Kudu

Scientifically known as Tragelaphus strepsiceros, Greater Kudus are woodland antelopes found throughout areas of eastern and southern Africa. Even though they inhabit a wide home range, they are generally sparsely populated in most regions mainly because of the declining habitats, poaching and deforestation.

Generally, the greater Kudus are one of the two common species of Kudus with the other being the lesser kudu (scientifically referred as T.imberbis). They have narrow bodies with long legs and their coat color varies from brown-bluish grey to reddish brown. Another characteristic that stands out in these antelopes is that they have from four to twelve white stripes along their torso but their heads are always darker than the other parts of their bodies and display slight white chevron between their eyes.

Greater Kudus are so far the largest antelopes with the males weighing from 190 to 270 kilograms (420 to 600 pounds) with a maximum being 315 kilograms (694 pounds) with shoulder height of 160 centimeters (63 inches) tall while the females weigh from 120 to 210 kilograms (260 to 460 pounds) with shoulder height of 100 centimeters (39 inches) tall but don’t possess horns., beards and nose markings. These antelopes have large and round ears and have head-body length of 185-245 centimeter and have tails measuring 30 to 35 centimeters (12 to 22 inches).

Male greater Kudus (bulls) are larger than the females (cows) and tend to vocalize more, mainly using low grunts, humming, gasping and clucks, The former also have large manes running along their throats and large horns with two and a half twists which they surprisingly straighten to extend up to 120 centimeters (47 inches) long with the greatest record being 187 centimeters (73 inches).

Their diet mainly comprises of roots, shoots, fruits (they love oranges and tangerines), leaves, tubers and grasses. Greater kudus cease being active during the day but instead look for shelter under woodlands, mainly during the hot days. Therefore, feeding and drinking is normally done during early morning and late afternoon where they source for water from the waterholes or even roots as well as bulbs that contain high water content.

Greater kudus always diverge slightly as they slant back from their heads. These antelopes (especially the males) start developing horns at 6-12 months old which then start twisting at about 2 years old, then become fully twisted at around 6 years old.

Their habitats stretch from eastern Africa in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and Eritrea into the southern in Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. They also inhabit other areas that include Uganda, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique and Somalia. They usually occupy mixed scrub woodlands, thus one of the few mammals to live in settled areas as well as hills, mountains, mopane bushes and acacia lowlands. Surprisingly, they will sometimes go into plains with abundant bushes and avoid open areas so that they are not easy targets of predators.

Their lifespan is 7-8 years in the wild and over 23 years in captivity where they face lesser competitions for food and water as well as predation. They are generally not territorial but instead have home areas.

Their predators are mainly hunting dogs, lions and hyenas much as the cheetahs, Nile crocodiles and leopards also prey on these antelopes.

Greater Kudus reach sexual maturity from one to three years and their breeding season is the end of the rainy season which may change depending on the climate and region. Their gestation period is 240 days (8 months) and calving begins from between February and March when there is abundant food.

Greater kudus were added under IUCN’s Red List of endangered species due to their declines numbers resulting from tremendous habitat loss as well as excessive hunting/poaching.