Eland [Taurotragus oryx]
The Eland is a fairly large antelope that stands at 1.7 meters at shoulder height and weighs a staggering 900 kg. The coat of the Eland is a beige colour that goes all across its back starting at the base of the neck. The underside of the Eland is a much lighter colour than the main coat and the legs are completely white. The neck of the Eland is a greyer in colour than the beige colour of the fur. The Eland has a dark brown stripe that stretches from its head all the way to the tail. There is a slight bump at the shoulders and the neck slumps after the bump. The females are much smaller than the males, weighing 450 kgs. The males have a rainy patch of fur in its forehead that is a darker colour than the coat. A distinctive feature of the Eland is the faint stripes that run vertically down the sides.
The eland is a browsing animal that can eat a variety of plant species. The Eland can go quite a time without an open water source but must then resort to Cucumbers and Tsama fruit to satisfy its thirst.
There is no breeding season for Eland but there have been records showing an increased amount of calves during specific months. The gestation period of an Eland is 9 months where a single calf is born. The calf is able to travel and run with the herd a few hours after birth.
A very interesting behavior of Eland is they have a nursery for calves. When the herd is threatened, all the calves and pregnant cows group together and the males form a protective wall in front of them. Eland are migrating grazers and dominant Eland bulls are not territorial when it comes to land but are very territorial towards other males when it comes to females on oestrus.
Eland have a variety of habitats that they prefer, from KwaZulu Natal’s light woodlands, the light savannah area north of the Orange river semi deserts or grasslands. The Eland is a nocturnal animal that consumes water absorbing vegetation, that sustains this large antelope’s thirst in areas that have little surface water available.
Eland are found in many game reserves throughout South Africa including the Kruger National Park. When you are on a Kruger Park Safari, you will have a good chance to spot an Eland or two.