The striking kudu is one of the largest, and according to many nature lovers one of the most beautiful, of South Africa’s antelope.
Weighing up to 315kg and standing up to 1.6m high at the shoulder, kudu bulls are considerably bigger than the cows.
Adult bulls are solitary or move around in bachelor groups, associating with the herds of cows and their calves only during the rutting season. Though the bulls are not territorial, they do maintain a strict dominance hierarchy through fighting, sometimes leading to the death of one or both combatants through injuries or having their horns inextricably interlocked.
Kudu inhabit a variety of bush- and shrubland habitats, and, being browsers, subsists on an extremely wide variety of leafy vegetation, being particularly fond of the thorny Acacias. While they can survive for extended periods without water, they will drink daily if it is available.
In South Africa, most calves are born in the summer months between December and March. Newborn calves are kept hidden in thick vegetation for up to three months after birth, with the cows returning to them every couple of hours to nurse. They can live to the age of 18, but being a favourite prey item for all Africa’s large predators as well as being prone to drought and cold conditions, and susceptible to a range of diseases, few kudus wil reach that age in the wild.
Kudus occur widely across South Africa, both in and outside of formal conservation areas, and are still relatively numerous. The IUCN regards their conservation status to be of “least concern”, estimating the total population to stand at almost 500,000 individuals.
(We had such an overwhelming response to our kudu photo submitted in the “Twist” photo challenge, that we thought we’d do well to dedicate a special post to these grand animals)