Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros)
With shoulder heights ranging from 100 cm to 150 cm, Greater kudu are one of the tallest antelopes with the largest horns in the bushbuck tribe, averaging 120 cm in length. It is also strikingly handsome, with a grey-brown coat marked by thin white side-stripes. The male has a small dewlap and large spiraling horns. The color of the males darkens with age. Its tail is black tipped with a white underside. Males possess a beard that females lack.
Greater kudus are found in southern and eastern Africa. The population is the most dense in the south. In East Africa, the population is broken up and there are many isolated groups in the mountains. In Uganda, Greater Kudu occur only in small numbers in Kidepo.
Greater Kudu are highly alert and notoriously hard to approach. When they detect danger – often using their large, radar-like ears – they give a hoarse alarm bark, then flee with a distinctive, rocking-horse running motion, the male laying back his horns to avoid overhead obstructions.
The horns of a mature bull kudu have two and a half twists, and, if straightened, would reach an average length of 120cm. However, they may occasionally have three full twists and the record length is a whopping 187.64cm. The horns do not begin to grow until the bull reaches 6–12 months, twisting once at around two-years-of-age and not reaching the full two-and-a-half twists until the age of six. They have long served different traditional communities, as both embellishment and musical instrument, the latter including the shofar, a Jewish ritual horn blown at Rosh Hashanah.
Greater kudu are found in a variety of habitats throughout Africa. As long as they have good cover, greater kudu are able to survive in the settled areas of Africa. Greater kudu can be found in habitats that provide bush and thicket cover. In the rains, greater kudu remain in the deciduous woodlands. During the dry season they can be found in along the banks of rivers where there is rich vegetation
Greater kudu are seasonal breeders in southern Africa. At the equator, they calve in the rainy season, which is from February to June, and mate near or after the end of the rains (Kingdon, 1982). Females, if well nourished, can breed in two years. Most females, however, do not reach maturity until three years of age. Males are mature in five years. There is a nine month gestation period, and calves are born when the grass is high. Calves remain hidden for two weeks before joining the herd. Greater kudu calves are weaned at six months. Male calves remain in the maternity herd for 1 and 1/2 to 2 years while the females remain in it longer.
Females live in herds of 1-3 head and their offspring, though there is no obvious hierarchical rank in these groups. Sometimes the female groups combine to form larger groups, but these groups are temporary. Males live in bachelor herds, which range in number from 2 to 10 heads. It is unclear if males have a distinct hierarchical rank in their groups. Male bachelor herds do not overlap each other, but the range of one male may overlap two or three female herds. Males and females do not have any association with each other except during the mating season. Greater kudus are not very aggressive animals and show patterns of aggression mainly in captivity. In the wild, when greater kudu fight, fighting occurs only between kudus of the same size.