Common Eland

Tragelaphus (Taurotragus) oryx

The common eland is the biggest antelope occurring in South Africa. Eland are bulky animals, the bulls weighing up to 950kg and standing over 6 feet (1.8m) high at the shoulder. Cows weigh up to 700kg. Eland differ from their close relatives – the kudu, nyala and bushbuck – in that both sexes carry horns and not only the males.

Eland occur in an extremely wide variety of habitats, from high mountains to the arid extremes of the Namib and Kalahari deserts. They are herbivorous, browsing and grazing on a huge assortment of plants, and are able to forego drinking water for extended periods.

They are social animals, keeping in mixed herds numbering from three to several thousand. The bigger herds form mainly during the wet season and when the animals migrate, sometimes over vast distances. Despite their hefty physiques, eland are surprisingly agile, with even the biggest bulls easily managing to jump fences two to three meters in height.

Single calves are born mostly just before or during the rainy season, and have a life expectancy of between twelve and twenty years.

The IUCN estimates the total population of the common eland at about 136,000 and regards it to be safe (“least concern”) in conservation terms. In South Africa, we consider the Golden Gate Highlands National Park and the Giant’s Castle Game Reserve among the most reliable places to see these incredibly big antelope in their natural habitat.

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28 thoughts on “Common Eland

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Ja-Nee, die elande is sulke bonkige diere, en nogtans verbasend rats en lig op hulle voete!

      Die fotos is sommer van oral oor; Golden Gate, Giant’s Castle, Kruger, Rietvlei, Ithala, Pilanesberg, Bergkwagga en Oribi Gorge

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks a lot Dunelight! Indeed the really massive herds of these big antelope require an enormous quantity of food, explaining why they cover such large distances. They don’t need drinking water if they have access to good quality fodder, but a large herd of 1000s can literally empty a waterhole of it’s contents in a matter of minutes.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Actually eland and buffalo live together quite peacefully Amy, they pose no physical threat to one another and do not compete for food.

      But it is amazing to consider an antelope being just as large as a buffalo, isn’t it?

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks Vince, that’s very very kind of you!

      As long as you’re in the right place at the right time, and when your subjects are this beautiful, it’s very easy to get decent photographs.

      As long as our photographs can help showcase the amazing natural beauty and diversity of this country, so that people can be inspired to visit and protect it, we’re very happy!

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  11. The Observer

    What a spectacular animal. I have yet to see one. I love the antelopes. The eland seems like a wild variety of cattle, with its’ build and gregarious nature. Maybe a precursor to the ancestors of cattle such as Nguni? Are they found in the Kruger at all? It is mind blowing when one considers how many varieties of antelope occur in Southern Africa.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Nice to see you around again Vince, and thanks for commenting.

      Looking at their zoological classification, eland and cattle are very closely related and they probably do share a common ancestor in their lineage.

      They do occur in Kruger yes. Your best chance to see them there is on the mopane plains from Mopani northwards (Tinhongonyeni waterhole near Mopani and Elandskuil near Punda Maria being reliable spots), with a small population around Pretoriuskop in the south.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      For such bulky animals, they’re surprisingly well camouflaged and very skittish! Next time you’re in Golden Gate, try looking for them at the foot of the hill just behind the chalets at the Golden Gate Hotel, around sunrise 😉

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