Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family:    Bovidae
Size:    4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 m) at shoulder  Length: 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) 
Weight: 265 to 680 pounds (120 to 308 kg)
Diet: Plants, fruits, flowers and grass
Distribution: Africa
Young:  One
Animal Predators:  Lions, leopards, wild dogs, cheetahs and spotted hyenas
IUCN Status: Lower Risk, Conservation Dependent
Terms: Young: Calf
Lifespan: Up to 23 years in captivity



·       The greater kudu is the second tallest antelope, with the most spectacular horns.

·       They can jump obstacles as high as eight feet (2.4 m) when trying to escape danger.

·       The scientific name, Strepsiceros, means “twisted horns.”

·       Kudu raise their tail when they flee so the white underside becomes visible.



Males are darker coloured than females and have large, impressive horns that twist and swirl up to their topmost point. Males also have a beardlike growth of hair running from the chin down the neck, while both sexes have a short mane that stands erect and runs the entire length of the back. Six to ten thin, white stripes begin behind the front leg and extend to the rump. They have extremely large ears that help them hear the approach of predators.



Greater kudus are found throughout much of southern and eastern Africa, with the largest populations living in the south. They can be found as far north as Eritrea, in the east along eastern Africa to South Africa, and in the west as far north as the southern edge of The Democratic Republic of the Congo.  


Feeding Habits

Greater kudus graze during early morning or late afternoon, when the temperatures are cooler.  They drink from water holes or dig for juicy roots and bulbs to obtain their juices.



Towards the end of the rainy season, males compete for females, but the competitions rarely end in death, unless the horns of the males become accidentally locked together. A male will follow a female around until she consents to mate with him. Eight to nine months later, the females separate themselves from the herd and find a well-concealed spot to give birth to a single calf. The mother and calf wait two weeks before rejoining the herd. Mothers communicate with their calf by softly humming or mooing and also by grooming the calf. Calves are weaned by six months, when they can feed themselves. Males begin to grow horns at six months and will leave their mothers’ herd by the age of two, when their horns begin to spiral. Male greater kudus generally do not mate before five years of age, when their horns are almost full size (3 to 4 ft/0.91 to 1.22 m in length), with two-and-a-half spirals. Females are fully mature at three years, but may conceive at two. 



These large antelopes live in same gender herds, except for during mating season, when the herds combine. Some males remain solitary, traveling on the outskirts of female herds. Greater kudus stay mostly in areas that provide lots of cover—if they spot a predator that has not yet spotted them, they will quietly creep away. They are usually very quiet animals but males sometimes bark out an alarm if they sense danger.  During the heat of midday, they rest in shady spots. Greater kudus can often be found near water and have been known to escape predators by swimming. They are usually active by day but become semi-nocturnal in areas where they are hunted by humans.



Hunting and diminishing habitat due to human settlement have led to a decrease in population.



Greater Kudu Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US