Primarily found in
Africa, eastern and southern Africa.
Introduction to the Eland
Weighing in at up to 2,200 lbs. and standing close to 6 ft. at the shoulder, eland antelope are the world's largest antelope. One of the eland's most noticeable attributes is their enlarged dewlap (a skin fold hanging from the neck). Female dewlaps are smaller with tufts of hair protruding from the middle of their necks. Eland also have a ridge of erect hair that runs the back of their neck to their upper shoulders. Coat color is brown, but will often appear blue/gray to in mature bulls as hair thins. Young show white, vertical stripes that become more faint as animal ages. Dark markings appear above knees on backside of forelegs. Adult males have a mat of hair that grows on the forehead that becomes thicker with age. Long, slender tail with dark brush tip. Both sexes grow smooth horns that spiral or corkscrew near their base. Females may have longer, but thinner horns than their male counterparts. Horns average 24" with lengths up to 44" in adult males (24 to 30 common in Texas). Males generally have thicker necks and shoulders than females. See video for more.
Docile in nature, eland can become quite tame. Gregarious, by nature, largely a herd animal. This social behavior begins at an early age with mutual attraction and licking between calves. Tend to avoid dense woodlands and feed in open grasslands. Eland shed their neck ruff in mid-March each year. Most active in early morning and late afternoon, lying in shade during heat of the day. The Zoological Society of London recently discovered that male eland perform a very unique displaying ritual to show dominance. Instead of physical fighting, males will 'crack' or 'click' their knees to show fighting ability. There is thought to be a direct correlation between the depth of the sound made and body size and fighting potential. For more information on this unusual 'cracking' behavior, follow this link. Mature males are known fight cattle. Eland are surprisingly fast considering their immense size, reaching speeds of 4o+ mph.
Eland food and eating habits
Herbivorous. Graze on young, green grasses, but will switch to browse and forbs if grass unavailable. Use horns to pull down branches and twigs of brush and trees with preferred forage. Have been observed digging for, and consuming, tuberous roots. Will drink once or twice a day if water is readily available, but can survive up to 4 weeks on moisture derived from water rich plants.
Eland average life span
Ranges from 15 to 20 years.