The great greater kudu

Pamushana | July 2019

The greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is the tallest antelope after the eland, with the longest horns.

It is a browser and feeds on many kinds of leaves, herbs, fallen fruits, succulents, vines, tubers, flowers, and a little new grass. Kudus drink in the dry season but can subsist in waterless regions. In some areas kudus make wider seasonal movements than other antelopes, dispersing in deciduous woodland in the rains; and concentrating in riverine and hillside base areas where the richest vegetation is found in the dry season.

Kudus tend to freeze if startled, allowing their disruptive colouration to blend them into the dappled environment. Disruptive markings on a kudu are the white lines that break the solid outline and give them camouflage in the bush. When threatened their first response is to dart into thick bush where the camouflage works best. When kudu bulls flee through thickets, they lift their noses to allow their horns to lie flat against their backs thereby protecting their flanks and not getting the horns snagged on bushes. (Only kudu bulls have horns.)

This magnificent male was nibbling on some leaves, and you can see how his long spiralling horns would protect his body when he runs with his head low and nose held high.