Taurotragus oryxeland

Last updated:

Geographic Range

Confined to Africa from Ethiopia and southern Zaire to South Africa.

Habitat

Elands live in both steppe and sparse forests. They are also found in semidesert areas and at elevations up to 14400 ft. During the heat of the day, they are often found in shaded areas.

Physical Description

Eland males are much larger than females, weighing 400-1000 kg compared to 300-600 kg for females. Hides are a uniform fawn color with some vertical white striping on the upper parts. A dewlap, thought to be an adaptation for heat dissapation, hangs from the throat and neck. Heavy horns are twisted in a corkscrew fashion and grow up to 4 ft. long on males, 2.2 ft. long on females. A short mane occurs on the nape, and males have long hairs on the throat.

  • Range mass
    300 to 1000 kg
    660.79 to 2202.64 lb
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    190.209 W
    AnAge

Reproduction

Dominant males mate with multiple females. In some areas, there are distinct breeding seasons--in Zambia, for example, young are born in July and August. Gestation lasts from 8.5-9 months and only single young are born. Male young weigh between 28-35 kg, while female young weight between 23-31 kg. Small calves lie in concealment rather than remaining with their mothers. Weaning occurs after 6 months, and sexual maturity occurs at about 3 years. Maximum lifespan is 25 years. Young often associate in groups of their peers.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
    1.02
  • Average number of offspring
    1
    AnAge
  • Range gestation period
    8.8 to 9.27 months
  • Average gestation period
    9.1 months
  • Average weaning age
    6 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    589 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    571 days
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Herds usually number up to 25 individuals, although larger temporary aggregations of females and calves occur during the wet season. There may be more than one adult male in a herd, but there is a strict dominance hierarchy that controls access to breeding females. Home ranges of females, which make extensive movements during the wet season, are much than those of males, . Male territories occur primarily in wooded areas. Fighting between males is done with horns. Males feel out each others' horns, and then push with all their might.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The diet of elands consist of grasses, herbs, tree leaves, bushes, and succulent fruits. They generally forage in open areas. Water is consumed voraciously when available, but elands can abstain from drinking in dry seasons.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Elands provide large amount of tender meat, as well as high-quality hides. There has been efforts to domesticate them for both their meat and their milk, which has much higher protein content and milkfat than the milk of cows. To date, only one of these domestication attempts has been successful.

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

None

Conservation Status

Eland populations have declined or have been extirpated in many parts of their range, but overall are still relatively common. Overhunting has been one cause of the declining numbers.

Other Comments

Natural enemies include lions and African hunting dogs. Although elands are massive, they are excellent jumpers and can clear heights of 1.5 meters.

Contributors

Bridget Fahey (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

Nowak, R.M. Walker's Mammals of the World, 5th Edition. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Grizemek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. McGraw-Hill Publishing Co.