Unusual features/differences from similar
The largest of the African antelope.
Visible Male/Female Differences
Both sexes have a dewlap with a tuft of dark hair on its lower edge, much
larger in males. Both sexes bear horns, rising from the top of the head in the plane of the face, nearly straight, with a spiral
ridge. They are longer, much thicker
and much more prominently ridged in males than in females. Females have two pairs of
nipples between their hind legs. Shoulder height males 1,7 m, females 1,5 m; weight males
700 kg (up to 840 kg and probably even heavier) and females 460 kg.
Habitat and Distribution
Arid scrub and grassland, savanna woodland and grassland. Independent of water.
Make local seasonal movements or migrate long distances to
reach food. Widely translocated, thrives on cattle farms.
Predominantly a browser. Grazes on green grass, which is the bulk of
the diet in summer. Prefers grass burned within the past year. Eats both leaves,
twigs, fruit and berries, also dry fallen leaves. Very difficult to fence out
because of its jumping prowess and can be a problem in
Single calves weighing 32-36 kg are born after a gestation of nine months.
Male calves are heavier than females. They are weaned at 6-8 months. Females first calve
at 2-4 years. Males mature at 18 months but do not mate until they have reached
rank. Lifespan 12-20 years. Females are infertile after 15 years. Calves can stand soon after birth, and can follow the mother after 3-4 hours, but lie
hidden for up to 2 weeks. Calves will follow any adult, and try to suckle from any female.
Females aggressively repel suckling attempts by calves other than their own. Calves are
more closely bonded to other calves than to their mothers, and form crèche groups within
the herd. Adults are too large for medium-sized predators. Lions and
spotted hyenas to tackle; leopards and spotted
Behavior and Habits
Feeds at night when vegetation contains more water. Pulls leaves into
the mouth with the lips. Breaks down branches by twisting them between the
horns, or hooking the horns over them. Does not sweat during the day but allows body
temperature to rise during the day, then unloads excess heat at night. Ranges over huge areas: 8 000-14 000 sq. km.
leading to dramatic
fluctuations in numbers in some areas.
Eland are not territorial. they
form small mixed herds of 4-10 in winter, large mixed herds of up to a few hundred in
summer. Herd members groom one another. Males
and females have separate dominance hierarchies. Larger and older animals are higher ranking
and bulls dominate cows. Dominant animals deliver blows with the sides of the horns
against subordinates that do not
move away quickly enough. Bulls fight by clashing and locking horns and pushing and
Bulls horn the soil and bushes. The tuft of hair on the forehead is rubbed in soil where
they or an oestrous female have just urinated, caking it with mud. When threatened by predators,
herds bunch with calves in the center and counterattack with horns and hooves. Eland are slow runners, and trot rather than galloping. Adult
bulls can jump 2 m fences, younger animals 3 m.
Cows bark when disturbed, moo, click or grunt to call their calves. Calves bleat to attract their mothers. Dominant bulls
and grunt when dealing with subordinates. As they walk, eland,
especially large bulls, make a clicking noise. The origin has not finally been
settled but it is suspected that the two halves of the hooves may snap together
or that the ankles make a noise, much like a man cracking his fingers
Dung and Field sign
Broken down branches, horned mud patches. Droppings are 2-3 cm
long and tapered. Rounded at one end, blunt at the other. Sometimes in cylindrical