Eland, Tragelaphus oryx, are the largest antelope species in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as here at Kapama. Our herd used to be quite large, but over time our lions have compressed the number down to just one lone female Eland. Our large male lion can consume at most round about 25 kg of meat at a sitting, and with a male Eland weighing up to 950-1000kg, that’s a nice long weekend’s worth of gorging for our lion pride.
Eland are cousins of Kudu, Bushbuck, and Nyala. All are in the Spiral Horned Antelope Family and all are what’s known as “Track-on-Track walkers,” meaning they put one foot down and then the next foot on the same spot to minimize the amount of noise they make in the bush. Both male and female Eland have horns, the males are short and thick and the females long and slender. Eland can jump over three meters in height and are built to survive in most climates from desert to Bushveld, to Lowveld, and mountains.
Female Eland are a tawny color, sometimes going into a light grey as they get older. They have a small flap of skin under their neck on their chest known as a Dewlap, where as male Eland are a grey hue, turning almost black with age and have a large Dewlap. The purpose of the Dewlap is to help with thermoregulation in arid habitats. The females give birth around the same time as each other, “Flooding the market,” and will form a cresh as the young reach a few weeks old. After a month or two the young form a juvenile herd that follows the adult mixed male-female herd from feeding spot to feeding spot.
By: Noelle DiLorenzo – Kapama River Lodge Ranger