Animals

Common Eland Facts

Discover amazing African common eland facts about this animal's habitat, conservation status, and diet.
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The common eland (Taurotragus oryx) is a native species of ox-like antelopes from eastern, central, and southern Africa. They are often seen grazing in savannas, grasslands, or open plains and the diet of an eland mainly consists of shrubs, grass, fruits, and herbs. Elands are a prime source of leather, meat, and milk with a high nutritious value. Because of this, hunting practices have led to a sharp decline in their population in some parts of Africa. Thankfully, their conservation status is still Least Concern.

The common eland is also known as one of the largest antelope species, second only to its cousin species, the giant eland. They are shy in nature and, despite their size, are quick to escape at the smallest of disturbances. Cautious in nature, elands can be quite jumpy and will not hesitate to run if scared. This can make them dangerous, especially if they escape.

If you find the common eland interesting, you should also have a look at our guides to the gerenuk and the okapi.

Common Eland

Fact File

What do they prey on?

N/A

What do they eat?

Herbivore

Average litter size?

1-2

How much do they weigh?

661-2204 lb (300-1000 kg)

How long are they?

79-136 in (200-345 cm)

How tall are they?

49-72 in (125-183 cm)

What do they look like?

Yellow-brown

Skin Type

Fur

What are their main threats?

Humans and predators

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Savanna, grass plains, and shrub forest

Locations

Africa

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Mammalia

Scientific Name

Taurotragus oryx

Family

Bovidae

Genus

Taurotragus

Common Eland Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a common eland?

The common (or cape) eland is one of the largest antelopes in the world. It belongs to a sub-family of spiral-horned animals which includes the kudu and the bushbuck. There are two species of elands: the giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus) and the common eland (Taurotragus oryx).

What class of animal does a common eland belong to?

The common eland African antelope is a mammal that is native to South Africa and, like all others in their class, they give birth to live offspring.  

How many common elands are there in the world?

There are about 136,000 adult common elands as of now. While their numbers are steadily declining, the average population is still seen as stable.

Where does a common eland live?

The common eland is distributed throughout central, eastern, and southern Africa. They can be found grazing in open plains, grasslands, savannas, and woodlands. Their habitat also includes steppe, sparse forest, and sub-deserts areas that can go up to 14400 ft (4389 m) in elevation.

What is a common eland's habitat?

The common eland species is present in Ethiopia, Angola, Namibia, and South Africa. Elands move according to the availability of water and food so areas with a lot of flowering plants and grass-like savannas and grasslands are prime grazing spots. They spend most of their time grazing at night when the grass has gathered moisture from the air. During the day, they can usually be found resting in shady areas. Elands try to avoid human settlements and open spaces, as they prefer having a protective cover. They also avoid dense forests, swamps, and deserts.

Who do common elands live with?

The common eland is a very social animal and can be found in herds of 25-60 other elands. During the rainy season, males and females come together to form herds that go up to 1000 members There is a strict hierarchy in the herd. It is led by a mature male while nurseries of young elands are led by females.

How long does a common eland live?

The lifespan of an African common eland is 15-25 years. Generally, an eland lives for eight to 10 years in the wild and up to 25 years in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

Head eland males are polygynous in nature and will mate with multiple female elands. There is no particular breeding season and births take place throughout the year with occasional spikes between August and November. The gestation period lasts around eight to nine months. The newborn calf is kept hidden until it reaches two weeks of age and after that, they join the nursery herd that is guarded by adult females. A male calf will reach maturity in four to five years and this takes just one to three years for a female calf.

What is their conservation status?

The African common eland's conservation status is listed as Least Concern and their population is stable at 136,000 individuals for now. However, this does not mean they are completely safe. The eland often falls victim to over-hunting due to the high-quality leather and meat it provides. Habitat loss is also another factor that causes a rapid depletion in the common eland population.

Common Eland Fun Facts

What do common elands look like?

Common elands are tawny or yellow-brown colored antelopes with spiraled horns and vertical white stripes on their upperparts. Male elands are larger in size than females. Their weight ranges from 880-2204 lb (400-1000 kg) in comparison to a weight range of 661-1322 lb (300-600 kg) for females. Males also have extra folds of skin on their neck and long hair on their throat with spiral horns that grow up to 4 ft (1.2 m) long. Female horns are thinner and shorter, measuring up to 2.2 ft (0.67 m) Their fur gets darker as they age and can turn blue-gray or even black.

Get to know interesting facts about the common eland from South Africa.

How cute are they?

The spiral in a common eland's horns looks a little bit like a unicorn's horn, and if you add that to their deer-like eyes, they look super cute! Not to mention, they're quite shy and quick on their feet.

How do they communicate?

African common elands communicate using sound, smell, and visual cues. They have a loud bark that is used to signal danger and is audible at long distances. There is also a faint bleat used by mothers and calves to communicate. They also use different body postures and visual cues, like walking back and forth to indicate danger or thrashing the ground to show dominance. Some studies say that the common eland uses urine odors to communicate as well.

How big is a common eland?

Males are bigger than female common elands. Males are 94–136 in (240–345 cm) in length and 59–72 in (240–345 cm) in height with a 48 in (121 cm) long horn. Females range from 79–110 in (200–280 cm) long and 49–60 in (125–153 cm) tall with 26.4 in (67 cm) long horns. A male common eland can be three times the size of an average donkey.

How fast can a common eland run?

African common elands are on the slower side as their average speed is 25 mph (40 kph).

How much does a common eland weigh?

Males weigh 880-2204 lb (400-1000 kg), while females weigh 661-1322 lb (300-600 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Males are called 'bucks' and females are called 'does'.

What would you call a baby common eland?

A baby common eland is known as a 'calf'.

What do they eat?

African common elands are herbivorous animals and their diet includes a variety of succulents, grass, bushes, herbs, and even fruits. They are not territorial and move from place to place in search of food. Most of the water they need is acquired from their diet but they also drink water when it is available. Their predators are lions, spotted hyenas, tigers and cheetahs.

Are they aggressive?

Common elands are shy animals and are aggressive only when threatened. Even then, their first instinct is to run away or escape by any means possible. It's best not to make sudden movements or threaten a common eland.

Would they make a good pet?

If kept with care in the right environment, common elands can be good pets as livestock. The milk produced by common elands has double the amount of protein and about three times more fat than cow milk.

Did you know...

While walking, the joints of African elands can make a clicking sound. This sound has not been investigated properly, but scientists believe that this sound is used to indicate body weight and demonstrate fighting power to other dominant males in the area. It can also be used as a signal to identify an approaching herd.

How has the common eland adapted to its environment?

Common elands have evolved to survive in the hot and humid temperatures of southern Africa. The species can conserve water in their body by raising their body temperature on hot days, decreasing the chances of sweating. They are also nocturnal and graze during the night. This is because vegetation takes in moisture during the night, increasing the water content in the vegetation. During the day, elands can be found resting under shady trees. The dewlap, or the loose skin on their throat, also helps in heat dissipation.

Comparisons with similar animals

There are two species of elands: the common eland and the giant eland. The latter is a little larger than the average common eland size. Kudus are smaller than elands and range from 51–59 in (130–150 cm) in length. Elands are also larger than a moose which has an average length of 94-122 in (240-310 cm).

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the spiral horned antelope, or the addax.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our antelope coloring pages.

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