Conservation Education and Science
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SCIENTIFIC NAME: Taurotragus oryx
ORDER: Artiodactyla
FAMILY: Bovidae
RANGE: southern Sudan to South Africa
HABITAT: grasslands and forested savanna to altitudes over 9,000 feet
DIET: foliage, fruits, seed pods, flowers, bark and tubers
ENEMIES: hyenas and lions
Status: common

The eland is the largest living antelope, standing 70 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 2,000 pounds; the female is considerably smaller than the male. The coat is light tan-to-reddish-fawn, which darkens to gray in older males. Faint stripes on the forequarters, a stripe along the back merging into a short mane, black and white leg markings, long tail with black tufted tip and prominent dewlap all characterize the eland. The adult male develops a tuft of frizzy hair on his forehead. Both sexes have long, spiraled horns.

The eland travels long distances throughout the year. As it moves, it makes a clicking noise caused by the two halves of each hoof striking together. The sound carries a long way and is a good indication of an approaching herd. Some eland migrate, but not in large conspicuous herds. Known as a “foliage gleaner,” the eland can pick high quality food from surrounding vegetation of lesser nutritional value.

Shy and generally silent, the eland is always alert and barks a gruff alarm call when detecting a predator. Hearing and smell are the most developed senses. Surprisingly, the eland can leap up to eight feet, and, in the wild, has even been seen leaping over the backs of other eland to escape danger.

Births have no strict season. Gestation lasts eight-to-nine months, followed by a single birth. The newborn stays hidden for two, or more, weeks and the mother returns several times a day to suckle it. When retrieving the concealed calf, the mother calls to it with a sound much like a creaking door. Faint bleating calls are used when mother and calf are together.