The Greater Kudu

The greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is a type of woodland antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The greater kudu is one of two animals that are generally referred to as kudu, the other being T. imberbis, the lesser kudu. Famed for the bull’s majestic six feet, twisted horns, the Greater Kudu is a member of the subfamily Bovinae.

Physical Traits of the Greater Kudu

Greater kudus have a compact body and long legs, and their coats vary in color from brown to bluish-grey to reddish-brown. They have 4 to 12 vertical white stripes down their torso. The head is darker in color than the rest of the body, with a small white chevron running between the eyes.

Greater kudu bulls are larger than cows and vocalize more, using low grunts, clucks, humming, and gasping. The bulls also have beards that run down their throats and large horns with two and a half twists that, if straightened, would reach an average length of 120 cm (47 in), with the record being 187.64 cm (73.87 in).

When horns slant back from the head, they diverge slightly. The bull’s horns do not begin to develop until the male is between 6 and 12 months old. The horns begin to spiral at about 2 years of age, but do not complete the maximum two and a half turns until they are 6 years old; on rare occasions, they can even turn three times.

Habitat of Greater Kudu

The greater kudu’s range stretches from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Eritrea, and Kenya in the east to Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa in the south. Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, Swaziland, and Uganda are also among the countries where the ubiquitous (in Africa) greater kudu can be found. They’ve even been introduced to New Mexico in limited numbers, but they’ve never been released into the wild in latin countries.

Social Structure and Behavior of Greater Kudu

Greater kudus can live up to 23 years in captivity and 7 to 8 years in the wild. They can be active at all times of the day. During the rainy season, when food is abundant, herds scatter. The herds would congregate during the dry season since there are only a few concentrated areas of food.

Greater kudu does not have territorial zones; instead, they have home areas. Maternal herds have home ranges of around 4 square kilometers, which can overlap with those of other maternal herds. Adult males’ home ranges are approximately 11 square kilometers in size and usually cover the ranges of two or three female groups.

The Greater Kudu
The Greater Kudu

Male kudus are not often physically aggressive toward one another, but sparring between males can occur, especially when both are of similar size and stature. Male kudus spar by interlocking their horns and shoving each other.

Until one male exhibits the lateral display, dominance is established. Sparring can result in both males being unable to free themselves from the other’s horns, resulting in the death of both animals in extreme cases. A herd of forty individuals is uncommon, partially due to the selective nature of their diet, which makes foraging for food in large numbers difficult. A herd’s territory can range from 800 to 1,500 acres (3.2 to 6.1 km2), and they spend 54 percent of their time foraging for food.


Greater kudus attain sexual maturity between the ages of one and three years. The mating season takes place at the end of the rainy season, which varies slightly depending on region and environment. Prior to mating, the male performs a courtship ritual in which he stands in front of the female and sometimes engages in a neck wrestle.

The male then follows the female and makes a low-pitched call before she agrees to copulate with him. Gestation lasts about 240 days (or eight months). Calving usually begins in February or March (late austral summer), when the grass is at its peak.

Greater kudus usually only have one calf, but there are times when two are born. The pregnant female kudu will leave her group to give birth, and the newborn will be covered in vegetation for around 4 to 5 weeks after she gives birth (to avoid predation).

The offspring will follow its mother for brief periods after 4 or 5 weeks, and by 3 or 4 months of age, it will be with her at all times. It is fully independent of its mother by the time it is six months old. The bulk of births take place in the rainy season (January to March). Female greater kudus attain sexual maturity between 15 and 21 months of age. Males attain maturity between the ages of 21 and 24 months.

Fantastic Facts About the Greater Kudu

  • Like buffalos Greater kudus engage in social licking
  • Greater kudos gain most of their moisture from food
  • Greater kudos can jump fences and bushes of 8 feet when escaping danger

Diet of the Greater Kudu

Greater kudus consume a large range of leaves and plants. The majority of their diet consists of woody plants including mimosa thorn trees, raisin bush, and bush willows. Kudus eat a variety of succulents and fruits, including goat apples, wild cucumbers, and kudu berries.

Male kudus pull down some of these difficult-to-reach plants with their longhorns. During the dry season, the greater kudu expands its food options even further and becomes more reliant on water, despite the fact that it can normally go for long periods without drinking.

Current Population and Conservation Status

Due to overhunting and rapid habitat destruction, the greater kudu population in the northern part of its range has declined. The IUCN Red List of endangered species, however, rates them as low risk (i.e., least concern). The greater kudu’s long-term survival is not in jeopardy because communities elsewhere are healthy and well-managed. However, the greater kudu is well protected from southern Tanzania to South Africa.

The population of greater kudus is estimated to be about 482,000 individuals. Namibia and South Africa have the largest populations, with 200,000 and 60,000 species, respectively. Ridderpest, an infectious viral disease that spread epidemic proportions in the 1890s, has historically afflicted their populations. In the 1990s, another epidemic of greater kudu struck Kenya.

Greater kudus appear to be an ideal target for hunters, with their striking horns and tasty meat, but their populations have proved to be immune to poaching. This is most likely due to their wary and evasive demeanor. Furthermore, since they do not compete for food with animals, farmers and ranchers are unconcerned about their existence. Kudus can be harmed by living near ranches because they are vulnerable to diseases that cattle contract.

Greater Kudu Camouflaged by Forest
Greater Kudu Camouflaged by Forest

Q & A About the Greater Kudu

What’s the difference between a greater kudu and a lesser kudu?

Both the greater and lesser kudu have stripes and spots on their bodies, and the majority of them have a chevron of white hair between their eyes. Males have spiral horns that are long and thick. Lesser kudus have smaller horns and prominent white patches on the upper and lower parts of their necks than their larger relatives.

Is it true that Kudus shed their horns?

Horns are not shed, but rather evolve with the animal during its lifetime. The Kudu antelope on the far left of the cover photo of this article has horns. Unlike horns, antlers are only grown by male deer species at the Wildlife Ranch, and they shed and grow back every year.

What kind of food does greater kudu eat?

The greater kudu is an herbivore animal. They eat a wide range of leaves, vegetables, fruits, vines, bulbs, and new grass, among other things.

What’s the best way to spot a kudu?

The antelope has a pale grey or brownish-grey coat with white vertical stripes down its flanks and a white chevron marking between its eyes that characterizes it. The horn and hide of the Southern Greater Kudu are significantly lighter in color than those of the Eastern Cape Kudu.

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