Common Eland

Common Eland

The common eland (Taurotragus oryx, also known as the southern eland) is a savannah and plains antelope found in East and Southern Africa.

Description

The common eland stands around 1.4 metres at the shoulder and females weigh 275 kilograms (600 lb) to 500kg, while bulls generally weigh about 700-800kg. Females are sometimes slightly more than half the weight of adult males, depending on the area. They are the world's largest antelopes, together with giant eland which are ironically about the same size. Females have a tan coat, while males have a darker tan coat with a blueish-grey tinge; there may also be a series of white stripes vertically on the sides of bulls (mainly in parts of the karoo in South Africa). Males have dense fur on their foreheads and a large dewlap. Both sexes have horns, about 65 centimetres (26 in) long and with a steady spiral ridge (resembling that of the bushbuck). The female's horns are wider set and thinner than the male's.

Ecology and behavior

Common eland live on the open plains of Southern Africa and along the foothills of the great South African plateau. They eat grass, branches and leaves and are diurnal but tend to be inactive during the heat of day. Herds usually have 30 to 80 individuals, but are known to exceed 400. The common eland has an unusual social life, leaving or joining herds as necessary without forming close ties.

Predators in the wild are predominantly lions and the endangered African wild dog.

Taxonomy

Common eland are sometimes considered part of the genus Tragelaphus, but are usually categorised as Taurotragus, along with the giant eland.

Name

The name "eland" is derived from the Dutch word for moose. When Dutch settlers came to the Cape Province they named the largest wild ruminant herbivore they met with the name of the huge northern herbivore.

In Dutch the animal is called "eland antilope" to distinguish it from the moose, which is found in the northern boreal forests.

External links

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