The greater kudu is a large antelope. The male kudu stands about 160cm tall at the shoulder. They can anywhere in the region of 190-270kg (420-600lb) The males are the only ones with horns. These can add 120cm (47in) of height to the kudu on average. The current record for the longest horn was 187.64cm (73.87in).
Female greater kudu weighs between 120 and 210kg (260-460lb). At the shoulder they stand approximately 100cm (39in).
Greater kudus measure 185-245cm (6.07-8.04ft) from head to tail. The tail makes up another 30-55cm of length.
These animals have long legs and their body is narrow in shape. Across the torso run 4-12 stripes which are white. A white band (known as a chevron) runs between the eyes. Normally the head will be darker in colouration that the body. The body is coloured anything from a bluey-grey to brown or reddish.
Greater kudu have an average lifespan of 7-8 years in the wild. In captivity they will regularly attain ages in the range of 23 years.
The greater kudu is an herbivore. During the dry season they need to drink water but in the wet season most of this is obtained from their food.
The kudu lives on a diet of leaves, fruits, vines, flowers, grasses and herbs.
Greater kudus hail from Africa. In the East of Africa they can be found in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Eritrea and Kenya. In this area the populations are fragmented and broken up into small groups. In the South they are more densely populated. Here they can be found in Zambia, Angola, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana.
They live within thick bushveld, rocky hillsides and dry riverbeds. These areas are generally near to flowing water.
Mating occurs towards the end of the rainy season for the greater kudu. The male finds a female then stands in front of her and they engage in a neck wrestle. After this the male follows the female around issuing a low pitched call. This mating ritual continues still she allows him to mate with her.
Gestation lasts for 8-9 months meaning the calves are born at the start of the wet season when the grass is at its highest. Normally this is during February or March. Most commonly one calf is born though on rare occasions twins may be born.
For the first two weeks the calf is tucked away somewhere that predators will not be able to find it. After this they roam with the herd for the day until 6 weeks of age. The calf will wean from its mothers milk at 6 months of age.
Male calves remain with the mother in the maternal herd till they are 1½ years of age. Females will remain for longer than this.
Sexual maturity is reached by the greater kudu at 1 to 3 years of age.
Kudus are preyed upon by lions, hyenas, wild dogs and leopards. Females and young also come under threat from cheetahs. Humans hunt the kudu as a trophy due to their large horns. They are also destroying their habitat.
Kudu females make herds of up to 24 animals. The males are solitary only joining the herds for breeding.
During the hottest part of the day kudus will seek shelter in a forest and rest. They eat and drink during the morning and late afternoon. Generally about 50% of a kudus day is spent foraging.
The horns of the kudu are used by the Jewish people to make the Shofar a ritual horn which they blow at the Rosh Hashanah.
By setting up wells and irrigation humans have enabled kudus to thrive in places which used to be too devoid of water.
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