Common Eland

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Source: Anonymous. Male Common eland.Source: Anonymous. Male Common eland.

General Description

Scientific Name: Taurotragus
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Taurotragus
Species: Taurotragus oryx (Common Eland)
Weight: 300 to 600 kg (females) and 450 to 1,000 kg (males)
Diet: Herbivore (grass, branches and leaves)
Age Of Sexual Maturity: 15 to 36 months in females and 4 to 5 years in males
Gestation Period: 9 months
Average Litter Size: 1
Predators: Lion, leopard, hyena, cheetah, cape hunting dog
Average Lifespan: 15 to 20 years (some are known to live as long as 25 years)

Physical Characteristics

  • An eland has large hoofs which give it its peculiar walk and this is the feature which makes it similar to the cattle
  • Adult males have a thick growth of hair on the forehead which distinguishes them apart from the females of the
    species. These hairs grow thicker with age.
  • The males of this species also have a unique feature called dewlap. It is a continuous piece of loose skin which
    hangs from their neck and has a tuft of thick black hair growing from it.

Habitat and Distribution

Common eland is the world’s Largest and slowest antelope and live on the open plains of southern and Eastern Africa and along the foothills of the great southern African plateau. The species distribution extends north into Ethiopia and most arid zones of South Sudan, east into western Angola and Namibia, and south to South Africa. However, there is a low density of elands in Africa due to poaching and human settlement.

Elands prefer to live in semi-arid areas that contain many shrub-like bushes, and often inhabit grasslands, woodlands, sub-desert, bush, and mountaintops with altitudes of about 15,000 ft (4600 m). Elands do, however, avoid forests, swamps and deserts. The places inhabited by elands generally contain Acacia, Combretum, Commiphora, Diospyros, Grewia, Rhus and Ziziphus trees and shrubs; some of these also serve as their food.

Eland can be found in many National Parks and reserves today, including Nairobi and Tsavo East National Park, Tsavo West National Park, Masai Mara NR, Kenya; Serengeti, Ruaha and Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania; Kagera National Park,Rwanda; Nyika National Park, Malawi; Luangwa Valley and Kafue National Park, Zambia; Hwange National Park, Matobo National Park,Tuli Safari Area and Chimanimani Eland Sanctuary, Zimbabwe; Kruger National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Giant’s Castle andSuikerbosrand NR, South Africa.

They live on home ranges that can be 200–400 km2 for females and juveniles and 50 km2 for males.

Ecology and Behaviour

Common elands are nomadic and crepuscular. They eat in the morning and evening, rest in shade when hot and remain in sunlight when cold. They are commonly found in herds of up to 500, with individual members remaining in the herd anywhere from several hours to several months. Juveniles and mothers tend to form larger herds, while males may separate into smaller groups or wander individually. During oestrus, mainly in the rainy season, groups tend to form more regularly. In southern Africa common elands will often associate with herds of zebras, roan antelopes and oryxes.

Common elands communicate via gestures, vocalizations, scent cues and display behaviours. The flehmen response also occurs, primarily in males. In response to contact with female urine or genitals. Females will urinate to indicate fertility during the appropriate phase of their oestrous cycle, as well as to indicate their lack of fertility when harassed by males.[3] If eland bulls find any of their predators nearby, they will bark and attempt to attract the attention of others by trotting back and forth until the entire herd is conscious of the danger.

Major uses and Economic Importance

Common elands have been successfully domesticated for meat, Skin and milk production in South Africa. A female can produce up to 7 kilograms (15 lb) of milk per day that is richer in milkfat than cow milk. The pleasant-tasting milk has a butter fat content of 11-17% and can be stored for up to eight months if properly prepared, versus several days for cow milk. Their skin is very expensive and is sold to the leather Industries.

Their need for water is quite low because they produce urine with a high-urea content. Due to the current climate changes, they are being used to replace Cattle because of the adaptive features to the environment.

Source: Anonymous. Common elands resting in herds.Source: Anonymous. Common elands resting in herds.Common eland conservation status and main threats

It is a species at risk but not endangered, it is conservation dependent- Least Concern (according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature). Hunting for meat and trophy and habitat destruction are the main threats.

Elands have been domesticated in some African countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa, as well in Europe in countries like England, Ukraine and Russia. They are bread for their meet, milk and leather. Despite not yet in danger of being extinct its population numbers are decreasing.


Common Eland has a high potential of alleviating poverty in Africa if it is exploited well. With the changes in climate, Common eland can be used to replace cattle since it is adaptive to the environment, its production level is high and high nutritive content of the products. This will lead to high income generation and diversification.


  1. IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). “Tragelaphus oryx”. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
    Version 2011.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  2. Grubb, P. (2005). “Order Artiodactyla”. In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.).
    Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 696–7. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0.OCLC 62265494.
  3. Pappas, LA; Elaine Anderson; Lui Marnelli; Virginia Hayssen (5 July 2002). “Taurotragus oryx” (PDF).
    Mammalian Species 689: 1–5. doi:10.1644/1545-1410(2002)689<0001:TO>2.0.CO;2.
  4. “Taurus”. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Merriam-Webster.
  5. Harper, Douglas. “Tragos”. Online Etymology Dictionary.
  6. Harper, Douglas. “Oryx”. Online Etymology Dictionary.
  7. “Common Eland”. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2011.[dead link]
  8. “Eland”. Oxford University Press. Oxford Dictionaries.
  9. “Eland”. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Merriam-Webster.
  10. Harris, H (April 30, 2010). “Husbandry Guidelines For The Common Eland” (PDF). Retrieved2012-04-14.
  11. Kingdon, J (1997). The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-
  12. “Animal Bytes – Common Eland”. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
  13. Estes, RD (1999). “Bushbuck Tribe”. The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals, Including
    Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, and Primates. Chelsea Green Publishing. pp. 154.ISBN 0-9583223-3-3.
  14. Skinner, JD; Chimimba, CT (2005). “Ruminantia”. The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion (3rd ed.).
    Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 637–9. ISBN 0-521-84418-5.
  15. Carnaby T (2008). Beat About the Bush: Mammals. Jacana Media. p. 172. ISBN 978-1-77009-240-2.

Common Eland
Date 2016-12-06 Language  English Filesize 1.05 MB

L’Elan d’Afrique
Date 2017-03-22 Language  French Filesize 1.05 MB