Interesting Facts About Common Eland

Common Eland – The Eland, an antelope resembling an ox, holds the distinction of being the largest in the world. It belongs to the “spiral-horned” subfamily, alongside other notable species like kudu and bushbuck.

There exist two species of eland. The giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus), slightly larger of the two, inhabits central and Western Africa. The more commonly encountered species, the common eland (Taurotragus oryx), roams across east and southern Africa, ranging from Kenya to Botswana. Bulls of both species can reach impressive weights of over 900kg and stand at a towering 1.7m at the shoulder, while females typically weigh about half as much as males.

Elands prefer open landscapes, from montane grasslands to semi-deserts. They are known for their shy demeanor and tendency to retreat swiftly from disturbances, making a safari sighting a cherished experience.

5 Most Interesting Facts About Common Eland

1. Despite their immense size, elands are remarkable jumpers and can effortlessly clear a two-meter fence. As they approach, you may notice a distinct clicking sound emanating from their hooves, believed to result from the splaying apart and clicking back together under their considerable weight.

2. Elands held significant importance as both a food source and spiritual inspiration for prehistoric hunter-gatherer communities in southern Africa, a legacy reflected in the prevalence of their depiction in rock and cave art throughout the region. Place names such as Elandsfontein and surnames like Mpofu (“eland” in Zulu) underscore the central role this antelope played in the cultural heritage of the area.

3. The giant eland is also known as “Lord Derby’s eland,” a tribute to Edward Smith-Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby. It was introduced to England between 1835 and 1851 when Lord Derby dispatched botanist Joseph Burke to South Africa to collect animals for his museum and menagerie.

4. Moreover, the common eland demonstrates superior adaptation to the African environment compared to cattle and can be easily domesticated. It has been successfully farmed for its meat and milk in both South Africa and Russia.

5. A female eland is capable of producing up to 7kg of milk per day, which boasts a higher fat content than cow milk.

6. The eland holds the title of being the largest African bovid, although it’s considered the slowest among antelopes. Despite its moderate running speed of about 40 kph (25 mph), it boasts an impressive ability to leap 3 meters (10 ft.) from a standing start.

7. When walking, the eland’s foreleg tendons or joints emit a distinct clicking sound, the origin of which remains largely unexplored. However, this sound serves as an effective means of communication and can travel considerable distances, signaling the approach of a herd. Some scientists speculate that it may serve as a form of territorial communication, with the clicks alerting other elands to the presence of a male traversing its territory, potentially audible up to a mile away.

8. With its thick neck and Brahman Bull-like dewlap, particularly pronounced in males, the eland shares certain physical characteristics with oxen.

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