Giant Eland


Giant Eland
Giant eland
At the Houston Zoo
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Taurotragus
Species: T. derbianus
Binomial name
Taurotragus derbianus
Gray, 1847

The giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus also known as the Lord Derby eland) is an open forest savannah antelope. It is found in Central African Republic, Sudan, Cameroon and Senegal. There are two subspecies: the endangered T. d. derbianus, found in Senegal's Niokolo-Koba National Park, and the low risk T. d. gigas, found in Central Africa, especially in Cameroon and the Central African Republic.

Contents

Characteristics

Giant eland are typically between 220–290 cm (7.2–9.5 ft) in length, stand approximately 150 to 175 cm (4.9 to 5.74 ft) at the shoulder, and weigh 440–900 kg (970–2,000 lb). Despite its common name, it is of very similar size to the common eland. The smooth coat is reddish-brown to chestnut, usually darker in males than females, with several well-defined vertical white stripes on the torso. A crest of short black hair extends down the neck to the middle of the back, and is especially prominent on the shoulders. The slender legs are slightly lighter on their inner surfaces, with black and white markings just above the hooves. There are large black spots on the upper forelegs. The bridge of the nose is charcoal black, and there is a thin, indistinct tan-coloured chevron between the eyes. The lips are white, along with several dots along the jaw-line. A pendulous dewlap, larger in males then females, originates from between the jowls and hangs to the upper chest, with a fringe of hair on its edge. The tail is long, and ends with a dark tuft of hair. Both sexes have tightly spiralled horns, which are relatively straight. In males the horns form a wide "V" and can grow to 120 cm (3.9 ft) in length, slightly longer than on females.

Ontogeny and reproduction

Gestation period: 9 months
Young per birth: 1
Weaning: After 6 months.
Sexual maturity: Females at 15–36 months, males at 4–5 years.
Lifespan: Up to 25 years.

Ecology and behavior

Primarily nocturnal, giant elands are highly nomadic, with large home ranges and seasonal migration patterns. During the day, herds often rest in sheltered areas. A gregarious species, giant eland herds usually consist of twenty or more animals and do not disband during the wet season, suggesting that social rather than ecological factors are responsible for herding. There is no evidence of territoriality, and males rarely display aggression, even during the breeding season. Giant eland are alert and wary, making them difficult to approach and observe. They move quickly, running at over 70 km/h (43 mph), and despite their size are exceptional jumpers, easily clearing heights of 1.5 m (4.9 ft). Giant eland live in open forest and savannah where they eat grass, leaves, and branches. Their primary predators are the lion, spotted hyena and perhaps leopards.

Distribution and subspecies

Broad-leafed savanna and glades in two isolated pockets in central and western Africa, which correspond to the two recognized subspecies, the Western giant eland (T. d. derbianus) and the Eastern giant eland or Lord Derby´s eland (T. d. gigas). The Western giant eland is largely restricted to Niokolo Koba National Park in Senegal. The Eastern giant eland is found in several reserves, for example in Bénoué National Park, Faro National Park and Bouba Njida National Park in Cameroon and in Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park in the Central African Republic.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). Tragelaphus derbianus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 29 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • giant eland — noun large dark striped eland of western equatorial Africa • Syn: ↑Taurotragus derbianus • Hypernyms: ↑eland • Member Holonyms: ↑Taurotragus, ↑genus Taurotragus …   Useful english dictionary

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  • eland — /ee leuhnd/, n., pl. elands, (esp. collectively) eland. either of two large African antelopes of the genus Taurotragus, having long, spirally twisted horns: now rare. [1780 90; < Afrik < D eland elk (MD elen, elant) < early modern G Elen(d), prob …   Universalium

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