Kudu

This is one of the largest and most impressive of all antelopes. Kudus can also swim well, in spite of their size.

Greater kudus live in Africa, being most common in the south of their range. They occupy a range of habitats that contain plenty of shrubs and areas of cover. During rainy periods the antelopes spend more time in woodlands while in droughts they migrate to river banks.

Members of the southern population of kudus are darker than those in the north. They are blue-grey, while northern kudus are more reddish. In common with their close relatives the nyalas, the males darken as they age.

The sexes are segregated. Adult males live in small herds of about five individuals, while a few adult females form their own herd, which also includes their offspring.

The greater kudu is not the heaviest but it is one of the tallest antelopes, being up to 1.5 m (5 ft) at the shoulder. They also have the longest horns, at 1.2 m (4 ft), of any spiral-horned antelope. The sable and oryxes are the only antelopes to have longer horns.

The two types of herds occupy neighbouring territories and come together only during the breeding season. This takes place during the second half of the rainy season, which arrives between February and June. Males will mate with as many females as they can. Females give birth about eight months later.

Males are solitary by nature, whereas females group together in bands with their young. They lack not only horns, but also the longer hair on the throat and the white chevron. A pregnant female leaves the herd to give birth, and then conceals her offspring in the bush for up to five weeks. After this, the young kudu will start walking and follows her for periods; once the calf is about four months old, they rejoin the herd.

Distribution: Eastern and southern parts of Africa, especially from Angola and Namibia across to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Found northwards up to Chad, Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Habitat: Woodlands and areas of shrubs.

Weight: 120 - 315 kg (265 - 694 lb); males are heavier.

Length: 215-300cm (85 - 118 in); stands up to 160 cm (63 in) tall.

Maturity: Females 15 - 21 months; males 21 - 24 months.

Gestation Period: Around 279 days.

Breeding: 1; weaning at around 180 days.

Food: Vegetarian, browsing leaves and shoots; seeks out fruit such as wild watermelons during droughts.

Lifespan: 7 - 8 years; up to 23 years in captivity.

Status: Lower risk.

Mane

A line of longer hair extends down the back, with a beard evident on the throat.

Horns

The male’s magnificent spiralling horns can reach up to 182 cm (72 in) long.

Chevron

An area of white hair connects the eyes.

Linear patterning

The stripes on the side of the body break up its outline, concealing its presence.

GETTING CLEAR

When sensing danger, kudus initially freeze, hoping to avoid detection, but they can also run and jump well if necessary.

Gallery of Kudu