The greater kudu is arguably one of the most beautiful species of antelope in southern Africa. This magnificent species is found throughout eastern and southern Africa. Despite occupying such widespread territory, they are sparsely populated in most areas, due to habitat loss, predation, hunting and disease.
Shamwari is home to the greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros). Here are some interesting facts about this gracious antelope:
1. Despite their large size, kudu are accomplished jumpers. They are super agile and can easily jump a height of 2 metres; when stressed they are known to jump as high as 3.5 metres!
2. The greater kudu resides in woodlands, bushlands, hills and mountains. They are browsers and feed on leaves and shoots from a variety of plants.
3. They are characterised by their large ears that are sensitive to noise, making these shy antelope difficult to approach.
4. Males are known for their impressive spiralled horns. Interestingly enough, the number of turns on the spirals is related to their age. They only begin to grow when the male is six to twelve months old. When they reach two years old their horns will have one twist, but they will only gain the full two and a half twists when they reach the age of six.
5. The horns are seldom used in defence against predators; nor are they an impediment in wooded habitats as the kudu tilts the chin up and lays the horns against the back, moving easily through dense bush.
Did You Know:
6. Their brown/greyish coat has white vertical stripes covering their body. These distinctive markings protect greater kudus by camouflaging them from predators. If alarmed, they stand still and can be extremely difficult to spot.
7. Greater kudu have a wide repertoire of vocalizations to communicate, including barks, grunts, hooting bleats, and a strangulated whimper.
8. Females (cows) and their offspring form small groups of six to ten individuals and males (bulls) are predominantly solitary but can often form bachelor herds of their own. They will only join female groups during mating season. Calves grow rapidly and at 6 months of age are fairly independent of their mothers.
9. Sparring occurs between males of similar sizes and ages. After locking horns, they shove one another until one gives up. Usually no serious injuries result, but remains of animals have been found where the two rivals had locked horns in such a way that they could not disengage. Dominance is established in a lateral display in which one male stands sideways, making himself look as large as possible until the other is suitably impressed and backs away.
10. When Kudus run, they curl their tail up over exposing the white underside, this serves as an alarm signal and a marker for the rest of the herd to follow.
We hope you enjoyed learning about are one of the largest antelope in the world. Make sure to look out for these incredible creatures while out on your next safari!