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Animal Data > Greater Kudu

(Tragelaphus strepsiceros)

Status Distribution Sexually Mature
Not listed as threatened Open savannah country from Chad and Ethiopia south to Zimbabwe and S.W. Africa 3-4 years
Number of Young Gestation Life Span
1 240 days 20 years

The greater kudu is usually found in rocky, mountains terrain with woodland and thickets, and within easy reach of water-holes. However, it will descend to the grassy plains during the rainy season. It feeds from late afternoon until early morning, resting by day in the bush, where its natural camouflage makes its outline almost indistinguishable in the ever-shifting light and shade. Usually remaining in one place, it roams over vast distances during drought, and when water is unavailable it feeds on juicy roots, tubers and bulbs. It is, however, a browser by nature, and has a particular preference for leaves, twigs and shoots of Acacia trees. It can rear on its hind legs, leaning against a neighbour or the trunk of a tree to reach its meal.

Herds of kudu are small, usually 6-20 individuals including females, their young, and juvenile males. Mature males apparently join the herds only for mating, spending the rest of their time in bachelor herds or on their own. During the rutting season they roar rather like lions, and engage in 'wrestling' matches, interlocking their long horns and pressing their heads together- serious fights are infrequent. Female kudu ward off the attentions of unwanted males by biting and butting. At the approach of danger the newborn young stay put, while the adults either seek refuge in water, 'freeze', or scatter, taking off with huge jumps and curling their tails right up to display the white underside. They also use an alarm call which is a loud, hoarse bark.

Main Features

Males have long, impressive horns, spreading in 2-3 open spirals. An elegant, slender animal with grey-brown coat, tawnier in the female. Large ears. 6-10 conspicuous thin white vertical stripes on the sides of the body. Head darker, with white U-shaped mark between eyes. Three white spots on the cheek below the eye. Mane along the back and a tuft of hair at the tip of the tail.

In Captivity

Greater kudu can be seen in most larger zoos, where they breed freely, and where they have been known to live for over 20 years. Marwell has its own herd which breeds regularly.

The lesser kudu, which is less frequently seen in zoos, is very similar in appearance, behaviour and habits. Its life span is 12-15 years.

©2009 Marwell Wildlife