BLACK WILDEBEEST - Connochaetes gnu
SIZE: Shoulder height (m) 1,2 m; (f) 1 m, mass (m)
180 kg, (f) 160 kg. Both sexes have horns.
COLOUR: Very dark brown appearing black at a distance,
the face darker than the body. Mane dark-tipped but
lighter at base and erect; fringe of long hair from
chest to fore-belly. Long, yellowish white tail almost
reaches the ground.
GESTATION PERIOD: 8 - 8.5 months
POTENTIAL LONGEVITY: 20 years
RECORD LENGTH OF HORNS: 68 cm
MOST LIKE: Blue wildebeest, but smaller. The blue
wildebeest is dark grey, has a blackish tail and has
dark, vertical stripes on its neck.
HABITAT: Open grassland and bushveld.
Black wildebeest, also known as 'gnu' because of the bellowing
snort they use when alarmed, onced roamed in great herds
of hundreds of thousands, but were brought to the brink
of extinction due to over-exploitation and agricultural
development. They are now off the danger list, due to being
protected on numerous farms and game reserves. Black wildebeest
are primarily grazers, but during winter they will browse
to suppliment their diet. They are a species of the central
plateau open plains, and are gregarious, with a social organization
involving territorial males, female herds, and bachelor
groups. The bulls carefully mark the boundaries of their
territories with urine and faeces, and keep females in their
territories by herding. Because there are few predators
in their areas nowadays, most wildebeest calves reach adulthood.
A single calf is born. The bond between the mother and calf
is very strong, with the calf remaining close to her for
the early part of its life.
are highveld antelope: they are not exactly black (as their
name suggests), but rather buffy-brown, although they are darker
in colour than their relatives, the blue wildebeest (which are
actually grey). Their most obvious feature is their white tails,
as well as their massive humped shoulders which slope to their
lightly built hindquarters. Black wildebeest have high, shaggy
manes, a distinct beard of long hair, an elongated patch of
long hair on the chest that extends from between the forelegs
almost to the belly, and probably the noisiest tail in the animal
world. When alarmed, the animal swishes its long tail back and
forth so vigorously that the loud whistling or hissing sound
it creates can be heard for almost a kilometre. This is part
of a ritual that may include loud snorting, highkicking with
the back legs, and eventually a comical flight in which the
herd will gallop off, wheel around, retrace its steps and halt,
facing the real or imagined enemy.
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