Eland

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Range
Confined to Africa from Ethiopia and southern Zaire to South Africa

Habitat
Savannah, steppe and sparse forest. Also found in semi-desert areas and at elevations up to 14,400 feet. The dominant plant life is grasses and small plants. Trees are sparse in this semi-arid landscape; the most dominant being the thorn woodlands, especially notable is the umbrella-shaped Acacia tree. Savannah vegetation is maintained by periodic fires which stimulate the growth of grasses. These fires burn fast across the herbaceous level and do little damage to the trees. Overgrazing in savannahs by domestic livestock has reduced the capacity of savannahs to withstand the erosive forces of wind. Without protective plants, valuable soil nutrients blow free from the surface, and in many regions, deserts are rapidly encroaching and replacing many systems. Savannahs once covered over 12 million square kilometers worldwide, but almost 70% have been lost in the past century.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Elands have large, twisted horns that grow up to 4 feet on males and 2.2 feet on females. They have a dewlap that hangs from the throat and neck of older adult animals that is thought to be an adaptation for heat dissipation. A short mane is on the nape, and males have long hairs on the throat. Elands are a fawn color with some light vertical striping on the sides.

Dietary Classification
Diet in the Zoo: Grain and hay, some commercially-prepared diet, carrots and some other vegetables for enrichment

Diet in the Wild: Grasses, herbs, low vegetation and some fruit

Life Span
25 years, both in the wild and captivity, have been recorded

Behavior/Adaptations
Elands are highly nomadic and gregarious. They live in herds that average 25 individuals. There may be more than one male in the herd, but there is a strict dominance hierarchy.

Water is consumed voraciously when available, but elands can abstain from drinking for long periods of time in dry seasons.

Although massive, elands are excellent jumpers and can clear heights of 4.9 feet with ease. Their speed has been reported to be at least 43.5 mph.

Males fight by feeling out each other’s horns and then pushing – they generally don’t "crash" them together..

Status
Still common in appropriate habitat, though some populations have been hurt in recent years by rinderpest, a bovine disease.