One of the biggest antelope in Africa (and the second biggest in the world), the eland is a truly majestic creature. Weighing anything between 850 and a 1 000kg, it can reach the size of a buffalo. Despite its size, it is still an excellent jumper with the ability to jump up to two metres from a stationary position and three metres if it is running. The herds are nomadic and if there is not enough food they will leave their current locale in search for more food. Even at Inverdoorn, were they to encounter a shortage in food supply, they would jump the fence and leave the reserve.
In the rock art of the Bushmen (the indigenous people of South Africa) the eland is most prevalent and a bushman who cannot hunt cannot marry, as he is seen unfit to provide for a family. The eland is viewed as a prize catch in their culture.
The common eland (Taurotragus oryx), also known as the southern eland or eland antelope, is a savannah and plains antelope found in East and Southern Africa. It is a species of the family Bovidae and genus Taurotragus. It was first described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1766. An adult male is around 1.6 metres (5 ft) tall at the shoulder (females are 20 centimetres (7.9 in) shorter) and weighs an average of 500–600 kilograms (1,100–1,300 lb, 340–445 kilograms (750–980 lb) for females). It is the second largest antelope in the world, being slightly smaller on average than the Giant eland.
Mainly a herbivore, its diet is primarily made up of grasses and leaves. Common elands form herds of up to 500 animals, but are not territorial. The common eland prefers habitats with a wide variety of flowering plants such as savannah, woodlands, and open and montane grasslands; it avoids dense forests. It uses loud barks, visual and postural movements and the flehmen response to communicate and warn other individuals of danger. The common eland provides leather and rich, nutritious milk, and has been domesticated in many areas.
It is native to Botswana, Burundi, the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe but is no longer present in Burundi and Angola. The common eland's population is decreasing but it is still classified as "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
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