BLUE WILDEBEEST - Connochaetes taurinus
SIZE: Shoulder height (m) 1,5 m (f) 1,35 m; mass
(m) 250 kg, (f) 180 kg. Both sexes have horns.
COLOUR: Greyish brown, appearing slate blue in certain
light, with darker vertical stripes on neck and flanks.
Black, erect mane and horselike tails.
GESTATION PERIOD: 8.5 months
POTENTIAL LONGEVITY: 20 years
RECORD LENGTH OF HORNS: 83 cm
MOST LIKE: The Black Wildebeest, which is shorter
and lighter than the blue wildebeest; the former has
a yellowish-white tail that almost reaches the ground.
HABITAT: Open savanna, woodland with short grass;
open grass plains. Water essential.
These clumsy clowns of the wild, with their humped shoulders,
sloping backs and rocking-horse gait may justifiably snort
and grunt in alarm, toss their massive heads about nervously
and search the air for scents of predators: being the favourite
prey of lions they have to be ever on the alert. They are
gregarious, and occur in herds of 20 to 30 individuals;
they may also form much larger herds numbering thousands.
Like the black wildebeest, their social organization consists
of territorial males, female herds, and bachelor groups.
On their massive migrations, the younger, non-territorial
bulls travel at the perimeter of the herd, often relying
on the timidity of accompanying zebra for an early warning
if predators are about. Exceptionally inquisitive, blue
wildebeest often stand and stare at an intruder, before
suddenly whirling round and galloping off. Blue wildebeest
are tough and although normally timid, will fight ferociously
when cornered. A single calf is born, usually between December
and January. The young stay close to their mothers, who
will suckle only their own calf
Wildebeest is actually a dark silver-grey, sometimes with a
brown tinge, although in some lights it does appear bluish-grey.
They have humped shoulders, deep necks, and more lightly-built
hindquarters: the slope from shoulder to hindquarters is also
more pronounced than in black wildebeest. Driven by their need
for water and their partiality for fresh, sprouting grass, blue
wildebeest have an amazing ability to track down a rainstorm
- even if it is many kilometres away. Sometimes in herds of
thousands, they will follow the sound of thunder, or perhaps
the sight of rain clouds, until they reach the freshly fallen
rain. They are associated with savanna woodland, as in addition
to abundant drinking water they also require adequate shade.
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