Tragelaphus oryx (Family Bovidae)
Eland male and female
Welgevonden Game Reserve, South Africa
Common questions asked on Safari About the African Elephant answered.
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Eland - Tragelaphus (Taurotragus) oryx
The Eland (Taurotragus oryx) belongs to the Bovidae family, a group of even-toed ungulates that also includes cattle, sheep, goats, and antelopes.
The Eland is Africa's largest antelope and a mature bull can weigh up to 1 ton. Both sexes have horns about 65 cm long, with the spiral starting at the base of the horn and then sweep straight up. The male has a much hairier head than the female, and its horns are stouter and shorter. Females have a tan coat, while males have a darker tan coat that often has a blueish-grey tinge.
Eland prefer savanna scrub, and eat grass, branches and leaves and are diurnal but tend to be inactive during the heat of day. They normally drink daily, but can go for a month or more without water.
Eland usually live in groups of around 6 to 12, but herds can contain as many as 50 individuals. A small herd normally has only one male, but in larger herds there may be several males.
Eland have an interesting social organization and it is somewhat different from that of other antelopes. The older the male, the more solitary his tendencies, 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. Calves spend a lot of time grooming and licking each other, developing bonds even stronger than those of a calf with its mother. The attraction calves exhibit towards each other probably developed as a defense tactic, as herds with calves are consistently larger than those without.
Size: height at shoulder 170 cm; weight up to 1 ton in the male.
Working as a Safari Guide I began to notice some common questions that guests were asking me, here is my guide to some of the most asked questions that people ask about the Eland.
What Predators does the Eland have?
Lion, Leopard, Hyena, Cheetah, Cape hunting dog.
Do Eland have to drink water every day?
No, Although Eland will drink, they are not dependent on being near a water source. They can actually obtain all their moisture requirements from leaves and fruit that they consume.
What is the clicking sound you often hear when watching Eland?
Often when looking at eland, especially in herds, you will hear a clicking sound, this sound has caused much debate, but is probably due to their huge bulk, spreading their cloven hoof as they put their weight on it, then once they lift their leg up it snaps shut making the clicking sound.
Where is the best place to see Eland?
The common eland is mostly found in grassland, mountain, subdesert, acacia savanna and miombo woodland areas, but can be found from coastal plains up to mountainous areas, and from semi-desert to areas of relatively high rainfall. They avoid deserts, forests and swamps.
Once widespread throughout suitable habitat in southern, central and east Africa, from South Africa north to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya, the common eland has now become extinct in many areas and populations have declined in others.
Excellent places to view Eland:
Currently the common eland is found in many protected areas throughout their range:
Kafue National Park, Zambia
Etosha National Park, Namibia
Kruger National Park in South Africa
Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa
Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa
Kalahari Gemsbok National Park
Mountain Zebra National Park
Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Nairobi National Park, Kenya (over 200 in a recent game count)
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