Kruger National Park

The Kudu

The Kudu is a native African antelope. There are two species of Kudu and both fall under the genus Tragelaphus and family Bovinae: Lesser and Greater Kudu.The greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is a woodland antelope while the lesser kudu Tragelaphus imberbis) is a forest antelope. The greater kudu is found throughout Eastern and Southern Africa but the lesser kudu can only be found in East Africa. The greater kudu is most well-known.

 

Size

Kudu is the Khoikhoi name for this antelope. The great Kudu is one of the largest species of antelope. The Greater Kudu Bulls weigh 190–270 kg (420–600 lb), with a maximum of 315 kg (694 lb), and stand up to 160 cm (63 in) tall at the shoulder. The Greater Kudu Cows weigh 120–210 kg (260–460 lb) and stand as little as 100 cm (39 in) tall at the shoulder.

The Lesser Kudu was first described by the English zoologist Edward Blyth in 1869. Lesser Kudu males reach about 95–105 cm (37–41 in) at the shoulder, while females reach 90–100 cm (35–39 in). Males typically weigh 92–108 kg (203–238 lb) and females 56–70 kg (123–154 lb). All Kudu have long bushy tails, white underneath, and a darker colour tip.

 

The Male Kudu

The bulls can be found in bachelor groups but are normally solitary. When displaying their dominance, they make their hair stand on end to look bigger, these displays of dominance are short and peaceful compared to other antelope. The bull’s neck enlarges during the mating seasons because they will lock their horns when fighting. Some males are unlucky enough to stay locked in their positions and die. Their horns only begin to grow at 6 to 12 months of age and then twist once around 2 years of age. A two and a half twist (three if they’re lucky) will only occur once they are 6 years of age

 

Mating and Calves

Kudu Bulls will typically only be seen with females during the mating season (happens at the end of the rainy season). They join groups from 5 to 15 kudus, including calves. and at six months calves are almost completely independent of their mothers. A pregnant female will leave her heard and give birth to her calf, she will then leave the new-born hidden for 4 to 5 weeks while only coming back to nurse it. This is the longest amount of separation time of any antelope species. Slowly the calf will start meeting its mother for a longer period until 3 or 4 months when it will be by its mother’s side constantly. At 6 months, they join the heard again.

 

Diet
Kudus are browsers and eat leaves and shoots. They often eat fruit (like wild watermelons) for their natural sugars and water. The Lesser Kudu needs less water than the Greater Kudu.

 

Predators
Many predators like large wild cats, Wild Dogs and Hyenas feed on Kudus. Kudus are also hunted by humans. When threatened, the Kudu will often run away rather than fight. Even so, bulls have been known to charge attackers. Wounded cows, on the other hand, can run for many miles without stopping to rest for more than a minute. All kudus are great kickers and jumpers. They can jump over a 5-foot fence from a staining position and can break a Wild Dog’s back with their deadly back kick.

 

Disease

Kudus were extremely vulnerable to the Rinderpest virus but it is now eliminated after a vaccination program on domestic cattle. Kudus are also very vulnerable to rabies in times of extended drought. Kudus are known to enter buildings when infected and seem tame but are given away by the distinct frothing at the mouth. When infected the Kudus are fearless and sometimes even attack humans.

 

Written by Tersha van Staden