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bovid family
bovid family
other herbivores
carnivores
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wildlife (back to intro)

in this section
Blue Duiker
Dik-Dik
Gazelle tribe
Thomson's gazelle
Grant's gazelle
Gerenuk
Kob antelope
Waterbuck
Sable antelope
Oryx or Gemsbok
Hartebeest
Topi or Tsessebe
Common Wildebeest
Impala
Bushbuck
Sitatunga
Greater Kudu
Bongo
Common eland
African or Cape buffalo
Giraffe
Common Wildebeest: Connochaetes taurinus

Large, bearded antelope commonly found on the acacia savanna.

Characteristics

Weight and Height
males: wt 440-600 lb (200-274 kg),ht 50-58 in (125-145 cm)
females: wt 370-516 lb (168-233 kg), ht 46-57 in (115-142 cm)

Horns
Cow-like, wide and thick in male, very smooth. The typical length for males is 22 to 35 in (55-80 cm) and 18 to 25 in (45-63 cm) for females.

Coat
Glossy and short with stripes of long hair

Color
Ranges from slate gray to dark brown; black face, man, tail, beard and stripes. Color also varies depending on subspecies, gender, and season.


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General Locations
Generally in central and southeastern Africa, from southern Kenya to South Africa and from Mozambique to Namibia and southern Angola. Wildebeests are one of the most common animals in the Serengeti; researchers believe that there are over one million in that area alone. Wildebeests can be seen in almost every national park and reserve in Africa because they can adapt to almost any environment and are very common, hence the name Common Wildebeest.


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Habitat
Wildebeests have adapted quite well to eating in areas where thousands of other animals are also eating at the same time. The wildebeest's mouth and head are shaped in such a way that it is able to harvest short green grass which is hard for other animals to feed on. During the rainy season, like many other Serengeti wildlife, wildebeests thrive on grasslands. Manmade wildfires help assure constant growth of new grass, thus maintaining an abundant supply of grass in Serengeti.

During the dry season, wildebeests must drink every day or every other day, but during the rainy season they can can go without drinking for many days because of the large amounts of water they intake through the grass. During the dry season, wildebeests are never more than 10 to 15 mi (16-24 km) from water, which means that they are fairly water-dependent.


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Activity
Wildebeests are both diurnal and nocturnal. In one area, wildebeests were found to spend 1/3 of the day grazing, 1/2 the day resting and the rest of the day just moving about or interacting with others. Wildebeests will graze just as much on a moonlit night as they would during the light of day, except that they are reluctant to travel long distances at night.

Social System
Whenever possible, females herd in small groups averaging about 8 cows, calves and yearlings. While ranging there will be a total of 2 to 25+ wildebeests in one area, often divided up into many subgroups which spend all of their time together. While grass is abundant, 7 acres (2.8 ha) is enough of a home range to support many herds of wildebeest.

In Serengeti, however, the population remains nomadic and migratory throughout the year. Over 100,000 wildebeests have been seen grazing within a 100 sq mi (259 sq. km) area. During the rut, 250,000 bulls and 750,000 cows migrate and then mate within a three week period of time. During this period, the bulls are very territorial, but there is very little space available so each bull occupies about 0.8 acre (0.33 ha) as his territory.


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Reproduction
Wildebeests have a very unique mating system. 90% of all calves are produced within a 3-week period early into the rainy season. Gestation is 8 to 8.5 months and females give birth around the age of 3. Males mature by the age of 4, but most do not breed until the age of 5 because it takes most an extra year to become competitive.

Predators
lion, spotted hyena, large cats, and wild dog.



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