Wildebeest facts : Wildebeest is a type of an antelope. Bot the male and the female have horns. Despite them being known as territorial, they are also known to be playful ,energetic and active. They rapidly breed and of all the Antelopes in Africa, the wildebeest population has grown from 250,000 in 1960 to 1.5 million as of the data taken in 2020.
The common name of this species of antelope is Blue wildebeest, its scientific name is Connochaetes taurinus. It is also known as a gnu which is pronounced as g-new. The class of animals fall under mammalian and the family is called Bovidae. The subfamily is Alcelaphinae. Only two species still exist despite the animals having five subspecies. It subspecies are Cooksoni, Johnstoni, Mearnsi, tauinus and Albojubatus. The most commonly seen type is the Blue wildebeest, which is also related to the Black Wildebeest.
In Africa it was given the name Wildebeest, the animal known as gnu. The world’s first man to describe the Blue wildebeest was the British William John Burchell in 1823. The Wildebeest scientific name was formed by combining Greek words that help describe the animals physical appearance. The only two available species of the wildebeest are both of which inhabit Eastern and Southern Africa.
- Black Wildebeest– This breed is Native to South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho. It is also known as the White-tailed gnu. They form breeding herds of between 10 and up to 60 and graze open grasslands. These breed has been trophy hunted to near extinction and are listed as endangered species.
- Blue Wildebeest– This breed is Native to Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. It is also known as brindled gnu, White-Bearded gnu. They are found in large numbers in the Serengeti National park with is population being estimated to be more than a million.
- Common Wildebeest. This species is common and native to Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola. Its other name is blue wildebeest or brindled gnu.
- Nyassaland Wildebeest – This species is Native to Mozambique and Tanzania.
- Eastern White-bearded wildlife– This species is native to the Gregory Rift Valley from Tanzania to Kenya.
- Western White-bearded Wildebeest- This species is native to North Tanzania and southern Kenya.
- Cookson’s Wildebeest– This species is native to Luangwa Valley in Zambia.
Research shows that the Black Wildebeest became distinct species about a million years ago during the middle Pleistocene Era. It looks like this animal adopted certain trail to enable it survive in specific habitat, rather than to compete for food with other animals.
Appearance and Behaviour
This animal from the antelope family is not proper proportioned. Wildebeest have a heavy front end and the hindquarters an legs are skinny. It has a rectangle shape like head and broad shoulders.
Wildebeest have black mane, which is thick and long. They have long beards which are on their neck with either dark or pale colour. They have different colours, they are not all of the same colour. Some are light grey brush while others are Blue grey in colour , with dark brown stripes that cross their body vertically.
The male Wildebeest have horns that are twice the size of the female wildebeest. The male horns are 33 inches with female being anywhere between 12 to 16 inches, the horns base become rougher as they age for both the male and the female. Blue wildebeest can grow to a height of 4½feet and can weigh up to 600 pounds. They move in herds of not less than 1,000 when migrating and are very protective of their territory. They sometimes leave something stay in their territory while other are constantly moving. Every wildebeest rests at night or during the day when the temperatures are too hot, their most active all morning into the early hours of the afternoon.
Wildebeest are found in the woodlands and grassy plains in various parts of Eastern Africa. These include Maasai Mara in Kenya and Serengeti National park in Tanzania. Wildebeest prefer savannah of Acacia. The wildebeest normally live with each other, but they are known to temporarily live with Zebras they encounter on the plains while on Kenya migration. They peacefully coexistence with zebras because they feed on different parts of the grass. The Zebras eat the top layer of the grass and the wildebeest feed on the remainder.
They are constantly moving because of they are in constant look of water and grass. They drink water twice per day. When the weather is dry they graze on fresh grass and then travel back home before the rainy season begins. After the rainy season, they return to the area and graze again . The eat a lot of grass quickly because they have large mouths and when the grass isn’t freely growing , they feed on shrubs and trees to eat,Wildebeest facts
Predators and threats
When wildebeest are in threat by predators, they let out loud calls to alert the whole herd of a looming danger. They live and move in herds to protect themselves from predators such as wild dogs, leopards, Hyenas and lions.
Male Wildebeest become ready to mate when it is three or four years old they are ready to mate with females. They secrete and expel faeces into their territory, to attract females. When a male enters the territory, they fight and if a female enters the male will try to mate . Their gestation period is 8½months ,the mating season is timed so that the calves are born during the rainy season. They give birth two weeks ,just In time for the plenty of grass. Wildebeest gives birth while surrounded by the herds unlike other animals which give birth alone. Baby wildebeest are referred to as calves.
The young calves stay close to their mother’s and protected by the herds against predators. For six months they depend on milk from its mother, it takes just a few minutes before they can stand up and run, it is a survival tactic they must learn quickly as they are very vulnerable to predators, Wildebeest facts.
The average lifespan of female and male Wildebeest is 20 years and the oldest record for the oldest wildebeest is 40 years.
Many of the wildebeest are migratory but not all. The best example are the Black Wildebeest herds which are known just to wonder but can’t migrate. Their bulls occupy territories of about 300 to 1300 feet apart with the spacing varying g depending on the richness of the habitat . The females in the herd have homes which ranges in size up to 250 acres in size. Herds of non territorial males roam at will.
The Blue wildebeest have both migratory and sedentary populations. In East Africa between Kenya and Tanzania blue wildebeest have a long distance migration pattern that follows the rainy and the dry season annually.