Lifestyle and Lifespan
Common elands are part of the family Bovidae, which includes cattle, antelope, and bison. Elands are the largest type of antelope, however it is also the slowest. Their coat is a tawny color with the dorsal line, tail tuft, and tip of dewlap all black. They have a few thin, vertical white stripes on the body and a tuft of dark hair on the forehead. Both sexes have spiraled horns about 2 feet long.
There are three subspecies of common elands. Livingstone's eland (T. o. livingstonii), Cape eland (T. o. oryx), and Patterson's eland (T. o. pattersonianus). T. o. oryx loses their stripes as adults, while the other two maintain their white stripes down the torso. The giant eland (T. derbianus) is a slightly larger type of eland with a reddish-brown or chestnut colored coat and white vertical stripes on their torso.
Both male and females have long horns. Males use them to wrestle and butt heads with rivals while females primarily use them to protect their young from predators. Elands can go for long periods of time without drinking by obtaining sufficient moisture from their food. Common elands have a black band behind their front legs. Although it is uncertain, some believe this marking is to help young elands have a spot to focus on and follow as they follow the herd. Although their peak speed is the slowest of all antelopes (around 25 mph), they can trot at around 15 mph indefinitely. They are also able to jump 8-10 feet into the air from a standstill when startled.
Found on African savanna. Eland prefer plains or moderately rolling country with brush and scattered trees. They are one of the most adaptable ruminants and can inhabit many types of habitats from subdesert to woodlands to alpine moorlands.
Found in eastern, central, and southern Africa.
Young leaves of trees and shrubs; also, succulent fruits. Females are selective feeders of flowers and herbs in open grassland, while males browse bushes near cover
In southern Africa, elands will associate with zebra, antelope, and oryxes. This allows those animals to have more eyes out for predators, which increases their chances of survival. If there is a predator, elands will bark and trot back and forth to warn his herd of danger. Predators include lions, spotted hyenas, African wild dogs, and cheetahs.
They browse in the morning and evening and lie in shelter during the heat of day. Groups can travel long distances during migration. Females are selective feeders of flowers and herbs in open grassland while males browse bushes near cover.
Adult males produce a clicking sound when walking, possibly originating from the tendons of the front legs. When the air is quiet, the clicking can be heard over a mile away. There is evidence that the clicking serves to warn younger males that there is a large dominant male around.
Gregarious, often seen in groups up to 100. Bulls are often solitary, but not territorial. Moist or urine-soaked soil is rubbed into the forehead tuft, which can then be spread onto tree trunks, bushes, or walls as a marking. The large horns are used for fighting and breaking branches off trees. Females cooperate to fight predators.
Although there is no fixed breeding season, the majority of births are at the beginning of the rainy season. Gestation is around 250 days and they usually have one calf. Calves form nursery groups, which promotes bonding between calves and is a chance for males to spar to determine ranking.
1 calf, in a nursery group with parental care for 2 years
Listed as Least Concern by the IUCN; the giant eland is listed as Endangered by the IUCN and USFDI.
Formerly, their range spanned the savanna of eastern and southern Africa, into the grasslands of the Kalahari and Karoo in southern Africa. It has been eliminated from more than half its previous range due to human population expansion and civil wars in the 1970's (Uganda, Rwanda, Angola, and Mozambique). They have gone extinct in Burundi. Recent reintroduction into ranchland in southern Africa have helped to bolster numbers.
From a standstill, elands are able to jump 8-10 feet in the air.
Whereas cattle can gain 0.7 pounds a day grazing, elands can gain 1.5 pounds
MacDonald, David. 1984. The Encyclopedia of Mammals, Equinox Ltd, Oxford.
Moss, Cynthia. 1975. Portraits in the Wild, University of Chicago Press.
Nowak, Ronald. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World, 5th Ed. Vol II, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.
World Wildlife Fund, Inc. 1993. In "Focus", Vol. 15, No. 6, Nov/Dec '93.
"Eland." African Wildlife Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Sept. 2016.