Introduction: The name eland (Taurotragus oryx) is borrowed from the Dutch and means elk. They are the largest African antelope and both sexes have distinctive heavy, spirally twisted horns of up to 1m in length. Eland herds are normally between 6 -12 animals and they can often be found near zebras or giraffes, possibly in the hope of warding off lions. One of the interesting characteristics of an eland herd is that it includes a nursery for the calves. When threatened by predators the herd forms a front, with the large males taking the lead positions, whilst the calves and pregnant females are protected behind this fortress.

Hunted extensively for their hide and flesh, and at times trained to work in harness, eland populations have greatly diminished over the years. In spite of its heavy physique, eland are remarkably agile and large bulls can easily jump over regular fences.

Distribution: Eland can be found on the farmland of north central Namibia (around Outjo and Tsumeb), the Kalahari Desert and Etosha National Park (particularly around Namutoni Rest Camp).

Diet: Elands are predominately browsers and prefer savannah scrub and leaves. They only eat grass in quantity in the summer, as it is not an important part of their diet. They will drink water when it is available, although they are by no means dependent on it, obtaining their moisture requirements from their food. They have been known to go up to a month without water.

Colouring: Pale fawn in colour and the horns average about 65cm long. The male has a distinctive tuft of hair on his head and stouter horns than the female.

Breeding: A single calf is born to a mother after a gestation period of approximately 9 months. Calves can run with the herd a few hours after birth.

Size: They stand nearly 2m high at the shoulder, and a fully grown male may weigh over 700 kg. Females are smaller at 1.5m and weigh up to 460kg.

Mammals of Namibia Wildlife of Namibia

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