What Do Wildebeests Eat?

wildebeests-eat Credit: Chris Eason/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

The black wildebeest and blue wildebeest have different diets, with black wildebeest eating karroid brushes and shrubs, while blue wildebeest are generalized grazers, focusing on rapidly growing grasses. These different diets reflect their different environments, as black wildebeest primarily live in more arid regions than blue wildebeest. Blue wildebeest are extremely important herbivores in their respective environments and are major food sources for predators.

Wildebeest are large, cow-like African antelopes. Neither species of wildebeest is endangered, but the black wildebeest is extinct in the wild due to over-hunting. Nonetheless, there are large numbers of black wildebeest in game farms and zoos. They once were important parts of their ecosystems as a vital prey base for large predators. They are larger than blue wildebeest, and observation of their behavior in captivity suggests that they are generally more aggressive. Both species are armed with thick, curved horns that are larger on males than females.

Blue wildebeest are very common in the wild, famously forming enormous migrating herds on the African savannah, a pattern once matched by the black wildebeest. When not migrating, they form herds of about eight females and their calves, who are monitored by territorial bulls. They are important prey animals for lions, hyenas, cheetahs and African wild dogs.