Kudu {Tragelaphus}

The Kudu is considered the most handsome of the tragelaphine antelopes

South Africa WildlifeThe Kudu {Tragelaphus}

The kudu is considered to be the most handsome of the tragelaphine antelopes, which includes the bongo, eland, nyala, bushbuck and sitatunga. Kudus, both the greater kudu and its close cousin the lesser kudu, have stripes and spots on the body, and most have a chevron of white hair on the forehead between the eyes.

Greater and lesser kudu males have long, spiral horns; occasionally a female will have small ones. The greater kudu's horns are spectacular and can grow as long as 72 inches, making 2 1/2 graceful twists. These beautifully shaped horns have long been prized in Africa for use as musical instruments, honey containers and symbolic ritual objects.

In some cultures the horns are thought to be the dwelling places of powerful spirits, and in others they are a symbol for male potency. The horns are seldom used in defense against predators; nor are they an impediment in wooded habitats-the kudu tilts the chin up and lays the horns against the back, moving easily through dense bush.

Quick Facts


Greater kudu - Tragelaphus strepsiceros
Lesser kudu - Tragelaphus imberbis


Males: 122 to 150 cm and Females: 100 to 140 cm


Males: 190 to 315 kg and Females: 120 to 215 kg


The greater kudu's horns are spectacular and can grow as long as 72 inches, making 2 1/2 graceful twists.


Habitat includes mixed scrub woodland, acacia, and mopane bush on lowlands, hills, and mountains. Kudus studied in the Kruger National Park made seasonal movements, dispersing in woodland in the rains and in the dry season clustering along rivers and the bases of hills where the nutritious, evergreen growth is found.

Diet - Herbivores

A browser, the Kudu eats many kinds of leaves, herbs, fallen fruits, vines, tubers, succulents, and flowers, sometimes varied with a little new grass.


Kudu are gregarious, although the herds they form are small, usually about four animals, although they may number up to twelve. Small bachelor herds are also found, as well as solitary males.


Females may conceive at 2, a year before maturing. Males mature at 5 and keep growing. They reproduce annually in southern Africa, calving February and March when grass is high.


The gestation period for bushbuck is 9 months.

Life Expectancy

7 or 8 years in the wild, up to 23 years in captivity.


  • Lions
  • Leopards
  • Hyena
  • Newborns are vulnerable to smaller carnivores

Kudu Conservation Status

  • Near Threatened

South Africa's Big Five

Did you know?

According to the AWF, Kudu numbers are affected by humans hunting them for their meat, hides, and horns. Kudu horns are prized in Africa for use as musical instruments, honey containers, and symbolic ritual objects.

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