Common Eland (Taurotragus oryx
aka Southern Eland & Eland Antelope. Appearance
Common Eland are the largest Antelope in Kenya and second largest to the Giant Eland (Taurotragus derbianus
). It has an ox-like appearance, with its humped shoulders. Its overall colour is between a tawn to fawny-grey, depending on the age of the Antelope. Older animals are paler, generally. A varying depth of white stripes is evident, with some variance between these animals. Bulls develop large dewlaps over time, along with a large tuft of hair on the forehead. Bulls have heavier, shorter horns than females, both being long spirals. Males spar with their horns, during rutting and females use theirs to protect their young from predators.
Common Eland are found in Kenya, in the south, along the coast, in a line up to Lake Victoria and then as far east as Meru. Longevity
A single Common Eland calf (rarely, twins) is born after a gestation period of 270 days, weighing on average 4 stone 10 lbs (30kg). It will be born at any time of the year and remains hidden for the first 2 weeks of its life.
Bulls grow to an average of 0.8 ton (800kg), 5' 6" (1.7m) at the shoulder and 12' (3.7m) long, plus a tail length of 2' (60cm).
Females grow to an average of 0.45 ton (450kg), 5' (1.5m) at the shoulder and 9' (2.8m) long, plus a tail length of 2' (60cm).
Common Eland live for up to 20 years (26 in captivity). Herd sizes have decreased substantially, but are listed as of Least Concern. Predators
Common Eland are predated by Lions
, Spotted Hyena
or even a pack of wild dogs. However, the adult is such a large beast, with horns it is not afraid to stand and fight with, that predation is comparatively rare. It's meat is, however, prized by humans and these docile beasts are easily killed. Most Common Eland live in national parks. Behaviour
Common Eland form four groups. Bulls - Females - Calves - Juveniles. When there is sufficient food, bulls and females come together and after a long, protracted series of fights amongst the bulls, the winner smells the female's urine, to see if she is in estrus. She will keep him waiting for up to 2 hours, before mating. Nine months later, the calf is born and will stay with its mother for a couple of weeks, before joining up with other calves. Later, it will move to a juvenile group. After 2 years, it will join either the bulls or females. Diet
Common Eland are browsers, feeding mostly from flowering bushes. During drought, they will also graze from grass, but are continuously on the move, never staying where there is good food. Again, during drought, Common Eland use their horns to break off branches, to get to green leaves.
Common Eland require little water, gaining most liquid from their food. Other Common Eland Facts
Common Eland are the slowest of all Kenyan Antelopes, due to their bulk. Their fastest sprint is 25 mph (40 kph), but cannot be prolonged. Drop that speed to just 14 mph (22 kph) and they can jog along all day. Common Eland, if startled, can jump tremendous heights. Eight feet (2.5m), from a standstill.
Common Eland's heels click as they walk, due to its heel splaying sideways when its great bulk comes down - then snapping back into position as the weight is lifted. A herd, walking along, all seem to 'click' at the same time. Photographs
All images were all taken in Kenya's Nairobi National Park, Masai Mara and Olare Orok Conservancy.