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THE KUDU

26 September 2013

QUICK FACTS

Scientific Name
for Greater Kudu : Tragelaphus strepsiceros

Scientific Name
for Smaller Kudu : Tragelaphus imberbis

Weight (Adult Bull) : +/- 187kg

Weight: (Adult Cow) : +/- 155kg

Height (Adult Bull) : +/- 1.42m

Height (Adult Cow) : +/- 1.34m

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The greater kudu and the eland have a common ancestral chromosome morphology, but have been developing separately for at least 1000 years. The greater kudu was first described by Pallas in 1766 as Anitlope strepsiceros from the southern Cape, but as Antilope only occurs in India the name Tragelaphus was created in 1816 by De Blainville. 

There currently are five subspecies of greater kudu in Africa, with Tragelaphus strepsiceros strepsiceros in southern and central Africa. 

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Fossil greater kudus are known from Europe and Asia where the this species probably originated. 

In southern Africa, the greater kudu has a discontinuous distribution, occurring from the northern provinces to the north-eastern Free State, the eastern Kalahari, the Albany Thicket of the Eastern Cape and it occasionally enters the south-western Kalahari. The gap between the northern and southern distributions has now closed to less than 200 km.

The name kudu is derived from ku:du in Khoekhoen. Adult bulls weigh around 187 kg with a mean shoulder height of 1.42 m as opposed to 155 kg and 1.34 m in the cow. Only the bulls carry horns and the spread of the horns in the bulls varies between individuals. The development of the horns is used for age determination. Although the cow is usually hornless, cows with underdeveloped horns have been known since 1888. The presence of horns in a cow, or that of horny protuberances on the frontal plate of the skull, is not a genetic problem but probably an atavistic relapse to an ancestor where the cows also carried horns... 

 

References:

Grubb, P 2005. Order Artiodactyla. In D E Wilson and D M Reeder (eds), Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference, third edition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, p 699

Skinner, J D and C T Chimimba (eds) 2005. The mammals of the southern African subregion, third edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 626 – 629.

article by: Prof J du P Bothma

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