Did You Know? Incredible Wildebeest Facts

Read this to learn more wildebeest facts

There are so many interesting facts about wildebeest. They are known as a wild beast. Blue wildebeest (plural gnu or wildebeests), conjointly known as the gnu, is an antelope from the mammal genus. It belongs to the bovidae family, which includes goats, antelopes, cattle, sheep, and different artiodactylous horned ungulates. Connochaetes taurinus includes two species, each of them are native to Africa, the black wildebeest or the white tailed antelope and the other blue gnu or brindled antelope.

Fossil records show that these species diverged millions of years back, leading to southern wildebeest and northern wildebeest. The white bearded wildebeest stayed in their original range and altered only a little from the ancestral species. In contrast, the black antelope modified a lot to adapt to their own open grassland environment. The most obvious means of telling the two species apart are the variations within their coloring and their horns.

In East Africa, the blue gnu is one of the most exuberant big-game species. Some populations of blue gnu tend to perform an annual migration to newer grazing grounds. However, the black wildebeest are generally unsettled. Some baby wildebeest (known as calves) fall prey to giant predators, particularly hyenas, lions and cheetahs.

If you liked reading these facts, you could also check our facts about common wombat or bengal tiger.


Fact File

What do they prey on?

Grass, leaves, and shoots

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

440-600 lb (200-270 kg)

How long are they?

71-80 in (180-200 cm)

How tall are they?

44-59 in (111-150 cm)

What do they look like?

Long, thin legs and a hairy face

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Habitat fragmentation

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Grass plains, grasslands, and Karoo shrublands


Eastern and Southern Africa


Least Concern



Scientific Name






Wildebeest Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a wildebeest?

A wildebeest is a group of animals that fall under the scientific name Connochaetes, and they are from East Africa. There are two species classified under wildebeest which are the black wildebeest and the blue wildebeest.

What class of animal does a wildebeest belong to?

African wildebeests belong to the mammals class of animals (taxonomic class of mammalia) from Eastern Africa.

How many wildebeests are there in the world?

Wildebeests are thought of as one of the best wildlife spectacles on Earth as there is an estimated amount of one million wildebeests. Their population is stable, and the numbers are calculable to be around 1,500,000, mostly because of the rise of the population in the Serengeti national park (Tanzania). However, these numbers represent only one of the taxonomic group, the eastern white-bearded gnu have seen a steep decline.

Where does a wildebeest live?

Eastern white-bearded wildebeest live in Eastern Africa, and the other blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) live in Southern Africa. They are usually found in grasslands. The wildebeest geographic range and habitat is within the grassy savannas and open woodlands of the plains that straddle the nations of Tanzania and Kenya. Over one million gnus migrate and travel for 1,000 miles in massive herds each year from East Africa to different habitat.

What is a wildebeest's habitat?

Wildebeests usually make their habitat in grasslands, grass plains, and Karoo Shrublands. They prefer places where there is short grass for the wildebeest to eat. They travel to these habitats in order to eat through the day and night.

Who do wildebeests live with?

Wildebeests live with their herds. They usually graze in mixed groups or herds along with zebras. This also gives them a higher awareness of their predators and they have more protection when their calves are born.

How long does a wildebeest live?

The wildebeest life span is typically 15 to 20 years. However, in some instances they can live for more than 40 years, but today's average wildebeest lifespan is around 20 years.

How do they reproduce?

Wildebeest don't form permanent pairs. During the mating season, the males mark temporary territories and then try to attract female wildebeest into them. These are small territories. The males try to defend these territories from other wildebeest while trying to compete for females. The males use grunts (wildebeest sounds) and distinctive behavior to lure females into their territories. Breeding takes place over a brief amount of time at the start of the rainy season. This typically happens between May and July, and birth typically occurs between February and March at the beginning of the wet season. Female wildebeests breed seasonally. Therefore, the calves are born and are shortly active and ready to move with the herd, which is necessary for survival.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of wildebeest is Endangered. Across the globe, migratory animals like antelope and wildebeest are under great threat. This is primarily due to their migration routes being stopped by fences, settlements, farms, roads and alternative developments, and therefore the areas where they wander have gotten smaller.

Wildebeest Fun Facts

What do wildebeests look like?

The gnu is a member of the bovidae family. They have an oversized, box-like head with arching horns. The forepart of their body is heavily built, whereas the hindquarters are slender with thin and lean legs. They have a grey coat and a black mane. They also have a beard which can be black or white.

A herd of wildebeest is much more powerful than a solo wildebeest

How cute are they?

Wildebeest are unmistakably cute with their face blaze and black mane. Funnily enough, they are much taller at the shoulders than they are at the rear.

How do they communicate?

Wildebeest communicate with one another using pheromones which are detected by flehmen, and several other forms of vocal communication. They communicate through sight and smell, however, they also are very vocal. Blue gnu males will bellow loud enough that the sound travels up to 1.24 miles (2 km). As they are territorial creatures, wildebeest herds have a definite space they call their own.

How big is a wildebeest?

Wildebeest are 71-80 in (180-200 cm) long and 44-59 in (111-150 cm) tall. The size of a wildebeest is almost two times the size of a hyena.

How fast can a wildebeest run?

While running, the wildebeest can reach up to the speed of 37.9 mph (60 kmph).

How much does a wildebeest weigh?

Wildebeests weigh around 440-600 lb (200-270 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no different names for the male and female species of the wildebeest. Hence, different names are not mentioned.

What would you call a baby wildebeest?

Wildebeest babies are known as calves, and they are born quite big. Calves will weigh 44-49 lb (20-22 kg) at birth, which is very large in comparison to other baby animals. Calves learn to trot within minutes of birth, and in a few days they are considered a part of the herd and can be seen walking along with their mother.

What do they eat?

The blue gnu is a herbivorous animal, meaning they feed totally on the short grass that grows on lightweight and alkalescent soils found in savanna grasslands and plains. The animal's broad mouth is customized for the consumption of huge quantities of short grass and they feed throughout the day and night. The amount of grass they eat is dependent on their location, which is why certain species of wildebeest will migrate.

Are they dangerous?

Males are highly territorial, especially throughout the course of the breeding season. Blue wildebeest males become very excited and aggressive while they compete for their mating rights. Their testosterone drives them to make displays towards the other males which includes snorting, bellowing, and locking their horns with the other competitors. They also put up a good fight against lions, cheetahs and hyenas and sometimes are successful in escaping from their attack.

Would they make a good pet?

Wildebeest may have a negative impact on humans. Wild individuals would become competitors of commercial farm animals and might transmit diseases and cause epidemics among animals, significantly domestic cattle. Additionally, they will spread ticks, lungworms, tapeworms, flies, and paramphistome flukes.

Did you know...

Read these wildebeest facts for kids.

The name genus connochaetes was given by the German zoologist Hinrich Lichtenstein in 1812. Dutch settlers initially discovered gnu in 1700 on their way to the inside of East Africa. Because of their similarity to wild cows, these people referred to them as 'wild ox' or 'blue wildebeest'. The cowboys liked to capture them and use them for sports like wildebeest rides. They would also hold competitions to compete with others.

Wildebeest pronunciation is simple. It is pronounced 'vil-duh-beest'. Wildebeests often stay in large herds and use their horns to protect themselves from African predators. While they are territorial, they are also known for being sporty, energetic, and active.

Let's look at some African wildebeest migration facts. The great wildebeest migration is known as the biggest animal migration within the world. The wildebeest type of migration is that every year, over two million animals (wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles) migrate and travel in an exceedingly clockwise direction across the ecosystems of the Serengeti (Tanzania) and also the Masai Mara (Kenya).

Wildebeest time of migration: The best times to check the migration are between December and March or between May and November. The migration is essentially driven by the rainy season. Simply bear in mind that the rains are unpredictable, therefore the wildebeest migration does not care for a set schedule. It additionally does not follow a set route to travel. The great migration is a truly fluid, continuous and year-long journey of animals migrating through Tanzania and Kenya. In total, wildebeests travel some 1,000 miles.

Are wildebeest endangered?

The conservation status of the wildebeest animal is Endangered. The population trend stays stable, and the numbers are calculable to be around 1,500,000, because of the rise the population in Serengeti national park. However, the numbers of the eastern white-bearded gnu have seen a steep decline.

Wildebeest derived products

Wildebeest are used for food, particularly to form jerked meat in Southern Africa. Dried game meat is a delicacy and a very important food item in Africa. The meat of females is a lot more tender than that of males and is most tender throughout the fall season. Wildebeests are a daily target for black-market meat hunters because their numbers render them easy to single out. Cooks who prepare the gnu body typically cut it into eleven pieces. The calculable worth for wildebeest meat was around 0.47 USD per 2.2 lb (1 kg) in 2008. The silky, flowing tail of the black gnu is used to form fly-whisks or chowries.

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 water buffalo, or shrew.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Wildebeest coloring pages.



At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
No items found.