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Eland (Taurotragus oryx)



Eland (Taurotragus oryx)
Order: Artiodactya, Family: Bovidae

Elands weigh from 660 to 2,200 pounds, with males much larger than females. Their hides are a uniform fawn color with some vertical white striping on the upper parts. A dewlap, thought to be an adaptation for heat dissipation, hangs from the throat and neck. Elands have heavy, corkscrew-shaped horns that grow up to 4 feet long on males and 2.2 feet long on females. Both sexes have short manes on their napes, and males have long hairs on the throats.



I. DESCRIPTION:
  • Elands weigh from 660 to 2,200 pounds, with males much larger than females.
  • Their hides are a uniform fawn color with some vertical white striping on the upper parts. A dewlap, thought to be an adaptation for heat dissipation, hangs from the throat and neck.
  • Elands have heavy, corkscrew-shaped horns that grow up to 4 feet long on males and 2.2 feet long on females. Both sexes have short manes on their napes, and males have long hairs on the throats.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
  • Confined to southern Africa, from Ethiopia and southern Zaire to South Africa.
  • Elands live in both steppe and sparse forests. They are also found in semidesert areas and at elevations up to 14,400 ft. During the heat of the day, they are often found in shaded areas.
III. DIET:
  • Elands eat grasses, herbs, tree leaves, bushes and succulent fruits. They generally forage in open areas.
  • They consume water voraciously, when it's available, but can abstain from drinking in dry seasons.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
  • Herds usually number up to 25 individuals, although females and calves often form larger temporary groups during the rainy season. There may be more than one adult male in a herd, but a strict dominance hierarchy controls access to breeding females.
  • Female elands, which move extensively during the wet season, have much wider ranges than males do. Male territories occur primarily in wooded areas.
  • Males fight each other with their horns.
  • Dominant males mate with multiple females.
  • Gestation lasts from 8.5 to 9 months and only single young are born. Male young weigh between 61 to 77 pounds, while female young weight between 50 and 68 pounds.
  • Small calves lie in concealment rather than remaining with their mothers. Weaning occurs after 6 months, and sexual maturity occurs at about 3 years. Maximum life span is 25 years. Young often associate in groups of their peers.
V. SPECIAL NOTES/ADAPTATIONS:
  • One of the most adaptable ruminants, elands inhabits sub-desert, acacia savanna, woodland, grasslands and mountains up to nearly 15,000 feet.
  • Although elands are massive, they are excellent jumpers and can clear heights of 5 feet.
VI. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT:
  • Elands provide large amounts of tender meat, as well as high-quality hides. There has been an effort to domesticate them for both their meat and their milk, which has much higher protein content and milk fat than cow milk. To date, only one of these domestication attempts has been successful.
  • Natural enemies include lions and African hunting dogs.
VII. POPULATION STATUS:
  • Eland populations have declined or have been extirpated in many parts of their range, but overall are still relatively common. Over-hunting has been one cause of the declining numbers.



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