eland

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Eland

Characteristics

Adaptation

Domestication and conservation

Resources

Eland (Taurotragus oryx ) are the largest African antelopes, weighing up to a 2, 205 lb (1, 000 kg) and standing 6.6 ft (2 m) at the shoulder. They belong to the family Bovidae in the order Artiodactyla, the eventoed hoofed mammals. Eland belong to the tribe Tragelaphini, a closely-related group of African spiral-horned antelopes, whose members are not territorial. Both sexes posses long horns, and females are slightly smaller than males.

Characteristics

The horns of eland are about 2 ft (0.6 m) long, with one or two tight spirals. Eland have five or six white stripes on their bodies and white markings on their legs as well. The young are reddish brown, while older males are a bluish gray. Other distinctive markings include a crest running along their spines, a tuft of hair on the tail (like a cow tail), and a large loose flap of skin below the neck (the dewlap). This adds to the elands bulky appearance.

Eland are not fast runners, but they can trot at a speed of 13 mph (21 kph) for long periods and can easily jump over a 6 ft (2 m) fence. They are gregarious, living in loosely structured herds where bonding is only evident between mothers and their calves. The size of herds can be as large as 500 with subgroups made up of eland of the same gender and age. Their home range areas can encompass more than 150 sq mi (389 sq km) and they travel over greater distances throughout the year.

Female eland reach maturity at three years, males at four or five years. Males continue to grow even after maturity. Eland mate every other year. The gestation period lasts about nine months, resulting in a single calf. The newborn calf lies concealed in the grass or undergrowth for about a month and is visited for nursing by its mother twice a day. After this, the calf joins other young calves, forming a nursery group, watched over by female eland who protect the young from predators.

Adaptation

Eland can adapt to a wide range of conditions. They can be found in arid regions, savannas, woodland and grassland areas, and in mountain ranges as high as 15,000 ft (4,570 m). Eland, like all bovids, are ruminants (cud-chewing animals) living on a diet of leaves, fruits, seed pods, flowers, tubers, and bark.

They sometimes break down higher branches with their horns to feed on leaves of trees. Eland are adept at picking out high quality food from among poorer vegetation, a habit known as foliage gleaning. During rainy seasons eland graze on green grass.

Eland are found in East Africa (Kenya, Malawi, and Mozambique) and in southern Africa (from Zimbabwe to South Africa). In West Africa (from Senegal to Sudan) a second species, the giant eland (T. derbianus ) is found from Senegal in West Africa to southern Sudan and northern Uganda. Like other antelopes, eland are somewhat independent of drinking, since they are able to meet most of their needs from the water contained in plants they eat. Some of the strategies eland use in water conservation are common to all antelopes. Seeking shade during the hottest part of the day and feeding during the coolest part is one strategy. Other water-conservation strategies include the ability to concentrate urine, heat storage,

Key Terms

Dewlap A loose fold of skin that hangs from the neck.

Foliage gleaner An animal that selects the most nutritious leaves for its diet.

Rinderpest A contagious, often fatal, viral disease of cattle, sheep and goats, characterized by fever and the appearance of ulcers on the mucous membranes of the intestines.

Ruminant A cud-chewing animal with a four-chambered stomach and even-toed hooves.

Tribe A classification of animals that groups similar species exhibiting common features.

the ability to allow body temperature to rise, and exhaling dry air by recovering water that would otherwise be lost.

Domestication and conservation

Rock paintings indicate a domestic relationship between eland and bushmen. In Natal, South Africa, eland have been domesticated for use as both dairy and draft animals, and for their tough hides. On their own and in low-density areas, they are endangered by agricultural development, which diminishes their range, and by hunting. Their meat is considered delicious and is prized as a source of protein. Ranched eland are susceptible to ticks. These antelope also died in large numbers during the rinderpest epidemic of 1896. Conservationists support planned domestication since it preserves species otherwise threatened by the encroaching land use of humans. The populations of eland today are much reduced. These formerly abundant antelope are now found mainly in reserves in South Africa and Botswana.

See also Antelopes and gazelles.

Resources

BOOKS

Estes, Richard D. Behavior Guide to African Mammals. Berkeley: University of California, 1991.

Estes, Richard D. The Safari Companion. Post Mills, Vermont: Chelsea Green, 1993.

Haltenorth, T., and H. Diller. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Africa. London: Collins, 1992.

MacDonald, David, and Sasha Norris, eds. Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File, 2001.

Nowak, Ronald M. Walkers Encyclopedia of Mammals. 6th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Vita Richman

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Eland

Eland (Taurotragus oryx) are the largest African antelopes, weighing up to a 2,205 lb (1,000 kg) and standing 6.6 ft (2 m) at the shoulder. They belong to the family Bovidae in the order Artiodactyla, the even-toed hoofed mammals . Eland belong to the tribe Tragelaphini, a closely-related group of spiral-horned antelopes, whose members are not territorial. Both sexes posses long horns, and females are slightly smaller than males.


Characteristics

The horns of eland are about 2 ft (0.6 m) long, with one or two tight spirals. Eland have five or six white stripes on their bodies and white markings on their legs as well. The young are reddish brown, while older males are a bluish gray. Other distinctive markings include a crest running along their spines, a tuft of hair on the tail (like a cow tail), and a large loose flap of skin below the neck (the dewlap). This adds to the eland's bulky appearance.

Eland are not fast runners, but they can trot at a speed of 13 mph (21 kph) for long periods and can easily jump over a 6 ft (2 m) fence. They are gregarious, living in loosely structured herds where bonding is only evident between mothers and their calves. The size of herds can be as large as 500 with subgroups made up of eland of the same gender and age. Their home range areas can encompass more than 150 sq mi (389 sq km) and they travel over greater distances throughout the year.

Female eland reach maturity at three years, males at four or five years. Males continue to grow even after maturity. Eland mate every other year. The gestation period lasts about nine months, resulting in a single calf. The newborn calf lies concealed in the grass or undergrowth for about a month and is visited for nursing by its mother twice a day. After this, the calf joins other young calves, forming a nursery group, watched over by female eland who protect the young from predators.


Adaptation

Eland can adapt to a wide range of conditions. They can be found in arid regions, savannas, woodland and grassland areas, and in mountain ranges as high as 15,000 ft (4,570 m). Eland, like all bovids, are ruminants (cud-chewing animals) living on a diet of leaves, fruits , seed pods, flowers, tubers, and bark . They sometimes break down higher branches with their horns to feed on leaves of trees. Eland are adept at picking out high quality food from among poorer vegetation, a habit known as foliage gleaning. During rainy seasons eland graze on green grass.

Eland are found in East Africa (Kenya, Malawi, and Mozambique) and in southern Africa (from Zimbabwe to South Africa). In West Africa (from Senegal to Sudan) a second species , the giant eland (T. derbianus) is found from Senegal in West Africa to southern Sudan and northern Uganda. Like other antelopes, eland are somewhat independent of drinking, since they are able to meet most of their needs from the water contained in plants they eat. Some of the strategies eland use in water conservation are common to all antelopes. Seeking shade during the hottest part of the day and feeding during the coolest part is one strategy. Other water-conservation strategies include the ability to concentrate urine, heat storage, the ability to allow body temperature to rise, and exhaling dry air by recovering water that would otherwise be lost.


Domestication and conservation

Rock paintings indicate a domestic relationship between eland and bushmen. In Natal, South Africa, eland have been domesticated for use as both dairy and draft animals, and for their tough hides. On their own and in low-density areas, they are endangered by agricultural development, which diminishes their range, and by hunting. Their meat is considered delicious and is prized as a source of protein. Ranched eland are susceptible to ticks. These antelope also died in large numbers during the rinderpest epidemic of 1896. Conservationists support planned domestication since it preserves species otherwise threatened by the encroaching land use of humans. The populations of eland today are much reduced. These formerly abundant antelope are now found mainly in reserves in South Africa and Botswana.

See also Antelopes and gazelles.


Resources

books

Estes, Richard D. Behavior Guide to African Mammals. Berkeley: University of California, 1991.

Estes, Richard D. The Safari Companion. Post Mills, Vermont: Chelsea Green, 1993.

Grzimek, Bernhard. Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990.

Haltenorth, T., and H. Diller. A Field Guide to the Mammals ofAfrica. London: Collins, 1992.

MacDonald, David, and Sasha Norris, eds. Encyclopedia ofMammals. New York: Facts on File, 2001.

Nowak, Ronald M. Walker's Encyclopedia of Mammals. 5th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.


Vita Richman

KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Dewlap

—A loose fold of skin that hangs from the neck.

Foliage gleaner

—An animal that selects the most nutritious leaves for its diet.

Rinderpest

—A contagious, often fatal, viral disease of cattle, sheep and goats, characterized by fever and the appearance of ulcers on the mucous membranes of the intestines.

Ruminant

—A cud-chewing animal with a four-chambered stomach and even-toed hooves.

Tribe

—A classification of animals that groups similar species exhibiting common features.

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e·land / ˈēlənd/ • n. a spiral-horned African antelope (genus Taurotragus) that lives in open woodland and grassland. It is the largest of the antelopes.

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eland Largest living antelope, native to central and s Africa. Gregarious and slow-moving, elands have heavy, spiralled horns. Height: up to 1.8m (5.8ft) at the shoulder; weight: up to 900kg (1984lb). Family Bovidae.

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eland S. Afr. antelope. XVIII. — Afrikaans (Du.) eland elk — G. elend — Lith. élnis = OSl. jeleni stag, rel. to Gr. ellós fawn.

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eland (Tragelaphus (formerly Taurotragus) oryx) See BOVIDAE.