The eland is the largest antelope in southern Africa standing 1.7 metres at the shoulder. They have large home ranges which they roam in small mixed herds of 4 to 10 during the winter but in summer at good feeding grounds they can be seen in aggregations of 1,000. Rather than run eland will trot at 35 kph which they can keep up for a couple of kilometres. From six years old the eland bulls become bluey-grey due to their dark skin showing through their thinning hair. Both sexes have horns.
The word “eland” originates from the Dutch for elk.
Mature eland bulls produce a castanet like click as they walk. This may be a result of the two halves of the hoof snapping together as they lift their feet up. The exact reason is still unclear.
An eland bull can jump two metres from a standing start with younger animals being able to clear a three metre high fence.
Eland conserve water by not sweating to keep cool. Instead they allow their body temperature to rise during the day (up to 7 degrees centigrade) and lose the heat during the cooler nights. This practice can save a 500kg eland five litres of water.
Eland will stay and face predators rather than taking flight. They will group together with the calves in the centre and will present the offending animal with a wall of kicking legs.
Adult eland like their own space and do not tolerate other eland coming within two metres of them.
Eland will rarely fight. They avoid combat by weighing each other up with the smaller one conceding its ground straight away. If they do not the dominant bull will give the inferior bull a “look” which should move it on.
The eland is the largest antelope in southern Africa standing 1.7 metres at the shoulder.