Wildlife Facts - Eland
Latin Name: Taurotragus oryx
The Eland, an ox-like antelope, is the largest in the world. It belongs to the ‘spiral-horned’ subfamily, along with the likes of kudu and bushbuck.
Bulls of both species may top 900kg and stand 1.7m at the shoulder. Females are about half the male’s weigh
- They are great jumpers, despite their huge size, and can clear a two-metre fence with ease.
- Listen closely and you’ll hear a distinct clicking sound as they approach. This is thought to come from their hooves, which splay apart and click back together under the animals’ great weight.
- A tuft of black hair grows out of the male’s prominent dewlap, the loose fold of skin that hangs down from the neck.
- It was both food and spiritual inspiration to the prehistoric hunter-gatherer peoples of southern Africa. And it features prominently in rock- and cave-art across the region. Today place names such as Elandsfontein and surnames such as Mpofu (‘eland’ in Zulu) suggest how central to the region’s culture this antelope once was.
- They browse more than they graze, feeding in areas where shrubs and bushes provide the leaves they prefer and using their horns to bring twigs and branches into reach.
- The common eland is better adapted than cattle to the African environment, and is easily domesticated. It has been farmed for its meat and milk in both South Africa and Russia. A female can produce up to 7kg of milk per day, which is richer in fat than cow milk.
- The social organization of the eland is somewhat different from that of other antelopes. The older the male is more solitary, while younger animals may form small groups.
- Males are also more sedentary than females, who may travel widely, especially during the dry season. Females and young are found in loosely cohesive groups.
- Females with young calves come together in nursery groups. After the young are weaned at about three months, the mothers rejoin the female herds and the calves remain together in the nursery group.
- Calves spend a lot of time grooming and licking each other, developing bonds even stronger than those of calf with its mother.
- With year-round births, some adult females are always present in a nursery group and they defend all juveniles present, not just their own.
- Juveniles usually remain in the nursery groups until they are almost two years old when they begin to wander off and join other loose groupings of their sex.
Come and meet them at Hartenbos Private Game Lodge.