Visible Male/Female Differences
Only males have horns. Females
have two pairs of nipples between their hind legs.
Habitat and Distribution
Savanna woodland, including rocky areas and slopes. Does not occur in forest,
desert, grassland or short scrub unless there is woodland nearby to provide cover.
Independent of water as long as green food is
Browses on a very wide range of plants. Acacia and Combretum species are
preferred. Can become a serious crop and garden raider. Males break
branches with their horns to get at foliage. Feeds below 1,8 m Browses for only about a minute on each
tree to avoid tannin formed by the tree in self-defence. Often drinks water at
Single calves weighing 16 kg are born throughout the year after a gestation
of 210-225 days. Calves are weaned at six months and horns start growing at five months. Males
are sexually mature at three years and first breed at six years; females first calve at
two or three years. Expected lifespan is 15 years. Cows leave the herd to give birth. Calves
lie hidden for up to a month, perhaps as long as three months.
Behaviour and Habits
Kudu are most active in the morning and late afternoon. It sleeps before dawn
and becomes more
nocturnal where it is hunted. They are not territorial. Herds have home ranges
which vary from 400ha and upwards in drier areas. Bulls roam more widely than
cows but return to a fixed area. Cows, calves and sub adults form small family herds, usually with 6-7 and up to 12
members. Social grooming occurs in both family and
bachelor herds. Temporary aggregations may form at water holes in the dry season. Males
leave herds at 3 years old; adult bulls live alone or in bachelor groups of 2-6, joining
female herds in the breeding season which is May-August. Dominance among bulls is based on size
as well as displays of fighting ability. During the
mating season prime bulls develop massive neck muscles, thrash bushes with their horns and
dig up soil. Fights are rare and involve lunging, horn clashing, and wrestling with locked
horns. Deaths occur from stab wounds and when horns become interlocked.
Kudu are alert and nervous when on open ground; in cover stands motionless to avoid
detection. Runs with tail curled upwards, exposing the
white underside as an alarm signal. Bulls run with their horns laid back close to their
shoulders. A strong jumper; clears 2, m high fences with ease, and 3 m under stress.
The alarm call is a loud bark. Cows use a soft "moo" to call
Dung and Field sign
Droppings are 2 cm long,
slightly longer than wide, with a short point at one end and a hollow at the other.
Thrashed bushes, horned up soil, broken down branches.