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What’s Great About the Greater Kudu?

At first glance, what you’ll notice about this animal is its majestic spiral horns atop its regal head. These horns are the greater kudu’s crowning glory making it stand out from other antelopes in Africa. But do you know that not all greater kudus have these corkscrew horns? Let’s get to know this animal further by checking out these facts.

Quick Bio:

The greater kudu (Tragelaphus Strepsiceros) comes from the Bovidae family. It is considered the second tallest antelope in Africa with a shoulder height of 100 to 160 cm and a body length of 185 to 245 cm. The greater kudu can weigh an average of 120 kilograms to 315 kgs, with males typically weighing more than females.

Appearance and Behaviour

Greater kudus have a narrow body and long legs. Even if they are quite large, they can jump very high, up to 2.5 meters! They also have large, cupped ears making them very sensitive to sound and noise. The greater kudu also has a beard along its throat.

They have a short, smooth coat that can range from reddish brown, taupe to blue-grey in colour. There are white stripes that run vertically on its flanks. Greater kudus are typically shy and will sneak away from potential enemies. On occasion, males may spar and wrestle during courtship season using their horns. While the greater kudu might be identified by its horns, only the male species actually have them. Female greater kudus do not have horns.

Habitat and Diet

Greater kudus can live up to 15 years in the wild. They usually prefer to stay in woodlands, scrubs, grasslands, savanna and forests with scattered dense brush. They find shelter in areas where they can blend in to hide themselves from predators like lions, leopards, hunting dogs, and hyenas. When they stand motionless, they are usually difficult to spot in the bushes.

Greater kudus are considered browsers and feed on leaves of trees, grasses, herbs, fallen fruits, flowers, and plants. They normally get water from water holes and from the moisture in the food that they eat.

They can be found in Eastern and Southern Africa including Angola, Botswana, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Population and IUCN Status

As of 2016, there are approximately 300,000 to 350,000 mature individuals. The current status is “Least Concern” meaning the population trend at the moment is stable. Aside from natural predators in the wild, other threats to its survival include loss of habitat due to development. Greater kudus are also hunted by people for their horns, hides and their meat. They constitute the highest proportion of hunting income in South Africa.

How is it Different from the Lesser Kudu?

Of course, it will not be called “greater” if a “lesser” specie does not exist. What makes the greater kudu “greater” is its size. The lesser kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis) is smaller than the greater kudu, only reaching 105 centimeters tall and 175 cm long. The lesser kudu also has more white stripes running across its flanks and does not have a beard or fringe on its throat.

In terms of habitat, lesser kudus typically prefer flatter, dryer, hotter places, while greater kudus prefer more rugged hillside habitats.

Greater Kudu Trivia:

Do you know that the greater kudu’s gruff bark is one of the loudest sounds made by an antelope? They emit this barking alarm call to the rest of the herd usually when they are threatened.

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