- Greater Kudu
name = Greater Kudu
status = LR/cd | status_system = IUCN2.3
status_ref =IUCN2006|assessors=Antelope Specialist Group|year=1996|id=22054|title=Tragelaphus strepsiceros|downloaded=11 May 2006]
trend = stable
image_width = 250px
image_caption = Greater Kudu bull
phylum = Chordata
genus = "
species = "T. strepsiceros"
binomial = "Tragelaphus strepsiceros"
binomial_authority = (Pallas,
The Greater Kudu ("Tragelaphus strepsiceros") is a
woodland antelopefound throughout eastern and southern Africa. Despite occupying such widespread territory, they are sparsely populated in most areas, due to a declining habitat, deforestationand hunting.cite book| last = | first = | coauthors = | title = Wildlife Fact File| publisher = IMP Publishing Ltd| date =1994| pages = Group 1, Card 110| isbn = 08-50-04-0016 ]
They have a narrow
bodywith long legs, and their coats can range from brown/bluish-grey to reddish-brown. They possess between 4–12 vertical white stripes along their torso. The headtends to be darker in colour than the rest of the body, and exhibits a small white chevron which runs between the eyes.
Male Greater Kudus tend to be much larger than the females, and vocalise much more, utilising low grunts, clucks, humming, and gasping.Fact|date=April 2007 The males also have large
manes running along their throats, and large horns with two and a half twists, which, were they to be straightened, would reach a length of 1 metre on average. However, the male horns do not begin to grow until the male is between the age of 6–12 months, twisting once at around 2 years of age, and not reaching the full two and a half twist until they are 6 years old.
Formerly four subspecies have been described, but recently only one to three subspecies have been accepted based on colour, number of stripes and horn lengthLOUISE GRAU NERSTING and PETER ARCTANDER: "Phylogeography and conservation of impala and greater kudu". Molecular Ecology (2001) 10 , 711–719 [http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120714132/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 online] ] :
* "T. s. strepsiceros", southern parts of the range from southern Kenia to Namibia, Botswana and South Africa
* "T. s. chora", northeastern Africa from northern Kenia through Ethiopia to eastern SUdan, western Somalia and Eritrea
* "T. s. cottoni", Chad and western SudanThis classification was supported by the genetic difference of one specimen of northern Kenia ("T. s. chora") in comparison with several samples from the southern part of the range between Tansania and Zimbabwe ("T. s. strepsiceros"). No specimen of the northwestern population, which may represent a third subspecies ("T. s. cottoni") was tested within this studyLOUISE GRAU NERSTING and PETER ARCTANDER: "Phylogeography and conservation of impala and greater kudu". Molecular Ecology (2001) 10 , 711–719 [http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120714132/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 online] ] .
The range of the Greater Kudu extends from the east in
Ethiopia, Tanzania, Eritreaand Kenyainto the south where they are found in Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabweand South Africa. They have also been introduced in small numbers into New Mexico. Their habitat includes thick bush"veld", rocky hillsides, dry riverbeds and anywhere with a constant supply of water.Fact|date=April 2007 They will occasionally venture onto plains only if there is a large abundance of bushes, but normally avoid such open areas to avoid becoming an easy target for their predators. Their diet consists of leaves, grass, shootsand occasionally tubers, roots and fruit(they are especially fond of oranges and tangerines).
During the day, Greater Kudus normally cease to be active and instead seek cover under
woodland, especially during hot days. They feed and drink in the early morningand late afternoon, acquiring water from waterholes or roots and bulbs which have a high water content. Although they tend to stay in one area, the Greater Kudu may search over a large distance for water in times of drought, in southern Namibia where water is relatively scarce they have been known to travel extremely long distances in very short periods of time.
Predators of the greater kudu generally consist of
lions, leopards and hunting dogs. Although cheetahs also prey on greater kudus, they are unable to defeat a mature male, so usually go for the more vulnerable females and offspring. When a herdis threatened by predators, an adult (usually female) will issue a bark to alert the rest of the herd. Despite being very nimble over rocky hillsides and mountains, the greater kudu is not fast enough (and nor does it have enough stamina) to escape its main predators over open terrain, so instead relies on leaping woodlandand cover which their predators have a hard time getting round, kudus have also been known to "disappear" into cover without being noticed to avoid chase.
Female greater kudus live in small herds of six to twenty
individuals along with their calves, though males tend to be mainly solitary, they sometimes form bachelor herds that consist of 4 to 8 young males (sometimes with an older bull as well). Rarely will a herd reach a size of forty individuals, partly because of the selective nature of their diet which would make foragingfor food difficult in large groups. A herd's area can encompass 800 to 1500 acres, and spend an average of 54% of the day foraging for food.Fact|date=April 2007.
Fully mature males will often
fightother males by interlocking their horns with the other until one of them admits defeat and gives in. In rare circumstances this can sometimes result in both males being unable to free themselves from the other's horns, usually resulting in the deathof both animals. Females may sometimes ward off males by biting them, due to their lack of horns.
Greater kudus reach
sexual maturitybetween 1–3 years of age. The mating season occurs at the end of the rainy season, which can fluctuate slightly according to the regionand climate. Before mating, there is a courtship ritualwhich consists of the malestanding in front of the femaleand often engaging in a neck wrestle. The male then trails the female while issuing a low pitched call until the female allows him to copulatewith her. Gestation takes around 240 days (or eight months). Calving generally starts between February and March, when the grasstends to be at its highest.Fact|date=April 2007
Offspring and maternal care
Greater kudus tend to bear one
calf, although occasionally there may be two. To begin with, the calf will wait for the motherto feedit, but later it will become more demanding in its search for milk, and after a few months even aggressive. For the first two weeks of a calf's lifethey hide where predators cannot find them. For four to five weeks after that they roam with the herd only during day. Males will become self-sufficient at 6 months old. Females become self-sufficient at around 1 to 2 years old.Fact|date=April 2007 Greater kudus may live up to 20 years of age when kept in captivity.
Greater kudus have both benefited and suffered from interaction with
humans; they are a target for hunters, possibly due to their habit of stopping to look behind them after bolting for cover, making them an easy target. Humans have also destroyed woodlandcover which they use for their habitat. However, wells and irrigationset up by humans has also allowed the greater kudus to occupy territory which would have been too devoid of waterfor them previously.
The horns of greater kudus are commonly used to makes
Shofars, a Jewish ritual horn blown at Rosh Hashanah.
Kudu dung spitting
* [http://www.nature.org/animals/mammals/animals/greaterkudu.html The Nature Conservancy's Species Profile: Greater Kudu]
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