The Eland: How well do you know Africa’s biggest antelope?

by Sonja Faul

One thing that I want to accomplish with my blog this year is to write more articles about animals and wildlife experiences. That’s where my true love lies. Nature and animals and I want to share my love and passion with you guys. To kick off 2019, here are some random (and hopefully interesting) facts about the eland.

The largest antelope in the world

From the title of this blog post, you already know that elands are the largest antelope in Africa. But did you also know that at a shoulder height of two metres and weighing nearly a ton (That’s the weight of a small car!), the Giant Eland is the biggest antelope in the world!

Males and females differ in size

Elands are sexually dimorphic. That’s just a fancy way of saying that males and females differ in size, with males nearly twice the size of females. Interestingly, female horns can actually be longer than male horns, but more delicate. The horns of males are heavier and more robust. Although both sexes have dewlaps (a flap of loose skin hanging from the neck), they are much bigger in males than females.

Elands ain’t fast…

Elands are the world’s slowest antelope. I’m no expert here, but I think it has something to do with their size. That’s my educated guess 😉

but they sure can jump high!

Elands are high jump champions. They might not be the fastest runners out there, but they sure can jump high. From a standing position, they can jump up to three metres high. Wtf? This characteristic presented a huge problem when people tried to domesticate elands. They couldn’t keep them fenced in.

Scientifically important

When it comes to understanding thermoregulation and water balance in desert-dwelling ungulates, elands were one of the first species studied. Just google ‘eland and body temperature’ and you’ll see what I mean. Some of the studies go back longer than 50 years.

Gestation period

What do elands and humans have in common? Gestation period. That is, women and female eland are pregnant for nine months. Also, females give birth to one calf which is mostly true for humans too.

Age and age determination

In the wild, elands can reach an age of between 15 and 20 years, and live up to 25 years in captivity. Have you ever wondered how scientists determine the age of wild animals? Well, it differs from species to species. When it comes to the eland, there are two methods. If the eland is dead, the age can be determined by examining the teeth. As you can imagine, you can’t exactly walk up to a wild eland and stick your hand in its mouth. For live ones, the best way to estimate age is horn development and morphology.

Did you learn something new? I certainly hope so. Check in next week for another fun article about a fascinating animal.

You may also like

Leave a Comment