Eland


ORDER: Artiodactyla

FAMILY: Bovidae

GENUS: Taurotragus

SPECIES: oryx

DESCRIPTION:
Largest and most heavily built of the antelopes. Shoulder height: 6 feet. Weight: up to 2000 pounds. Both sexes have horns about 2 feet long and slightly spiralled. They have a hump on the shoulders and a prominent dewlap. Color is tawny; dorsal line, tail tuft and tip of dewlap are all black. They have a few thin, vertical white stripes on the body and a tuft of dark hair on the forehead. Their hooves are rounded.

GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Found in eastern, central and southern Africa. Prefer plains or moderately rolling country with brush and scattered trees.

DIET:
Young leaves of trees and shrubs; also, succulent fruits. Males and female favor different foods: females are selective feeders of flowers and herbs in open grassland, while male browse bushes near cover.

LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Browse in morning and evening. Lie in shelter during heat of day. Very shy and difficult to approach. Gregarious, occurring in groups up to 100. Bulls often solitary, but not territorial. Travel long distances during migration. Impregnate forehead tuft with moist or urine-soaked soil and brush this paste on tree trunks, bushes, or walls as a marking. Use horns for fighting and to break branches off trees. Display broadside, keeping head up and away and presenting shoulder region. Males are sexually mature at 4 years of age, females at 3 years. Apparently there is no fixed breeding season but the majority of births are at the beginning of the rainy season. Gestation period is 250-270 days; one calf is usual. Calves form nursery groups; often have closer bonds with other calves than with their mothers. Males decide ranking by their sparring within the nursery group. Females will cooperatively fight predators. Life span is 15-20 years.

SPECIAL ADAPTATIONS:
Can go for long periods without drinking, getting sufficient moisture from food.

INTERPRETIVE INFORMATION:
Elands have been tamed, but not domesticated as yet. Eland can gain 1 1/2 pounds a day on grazing land compared to about 2/3 of a pound in cattle.

OUR ANIMALS:
We have three females and one male.

STATUS IN WILD:
They have been reduced in numbers because: they are easily captured and killed; they yield large amounts of tender meat; their thick hide is excellent; and they suffer from rinderpest. Although the common eland is not endangered, the giant eland is listed as endangered by the IUCN and the USFDI.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. MacDonald, David. 1984. The Encyclopedia of Mammals, Equinox Ltd, Oxford.
  2. Moss, Cynthia. 1975. Portraits in the Wild, University of Chicago Press.
  3. Nowak, Ronald. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World, 5th Ed. Vol II, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.
  4. World Wildlife Fund, Inc. 1993. In "Focus", Vol. 15, No. 6, Nov/Dec '93.

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