Geographic Range

The Giant Eland’s home range extends from Senegal through southern Sudan.

  • Biogeographic Regions
  • ethiopian
    • native

Habitat

Giant elands are found in sparse forest during the day, where they take shelter from the heat. They search surrounding savannahs and grasslands for food during the morning and evening when it is cooler. Elands are found in mountainous regions up to altitudes of 4500 meters.

  • Terrestrial Biomes
  • savanna or grassland
  • scrub forest

 

Physical Description

Male giant elands tend to be larger than females, weighing between 400 and 1000 kg. Females weigh between 300 and 600 kg. Shoulder height ranges from 130 to 180 cm, and body length ranges from 210 to 345 cm. Their massive, spiraled horns can extend up to 123 cm on males and 66 cm on females. The giant eland has sandy grey pelage with 8 to 12 whitish vertical stripes on its sides. There are black marks on the ears and hocks, and mature males have a black neck with a large dewlap extending from chin to chest.

  • Other Physical Features
  • endothermic
  • homoiothermic
  • bilateral symmetry
  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • ornamentation
  • Range mass

1000 (high) kg

2202.64 (high) lb

  • Average mass

1000 kg

2202.64 lb

  • Range length

210 to 345 cm

82.68 to 135.83 in

 

Reproduction

Mating usually falls within the wet season. Dominant males will mate with several females. Estrus lasts about 3 days. Gestation lasts 8 to 9 months producing a single calf. Young associate loosely with their mothers. Weaning occurs after 4 to 6 months after which the juvenile leaves its mother permanently, joining a group of other juveniles. Sexual maturity is reached at about 2 years of age. Life expectancy of giant elands is up to 25 years.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Range number of offspring

1 (low)

  • Average number of offspring

1

  • Average number of offspring

1

  • Range gestation period

8 to 9 months

  • Range weaning age

4 to 6 months

  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female

1107 days

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial

 

 

Lifespan/Longevity

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity

20.3 (high) years

 

Behavior

Giant elands live in herds of about 25 individuals but larger groups are not uncommon. Migratory movements of herds are determined by the pattern of occurrence of wet seasons. Mature males are usually solitary, and male-female contact can last from a few hours to a few weeks. A dominance hierarchy is determined among males in a herd and influences access to mating opportunities with females. Males use their horns in aggressive interactions to determine position in this hierarchy. Females tend to form their own aggregations, along with calves. Once the calves are weaned they join groups of mixed-sex juveniles for about 2 years. They then join unisex aggregations at sexual maturity.

  • Key Behaviors
  • motile
  • solitary
  • social
  • dominance hierarchies

 

Communication and Perception

  • Perception Channels
  • tactile
  • chemical

 

Food Habits

The diet of the giant eland consists of leaves and fruits from trees, grasses, and herbs. Their long horns are sometimes used to break branches high up on trees to get at the leaves.

 

 

 

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Giant elands are a source of large quantities of tender meat, quality hides, and milk with higher protein and fat content than milk from dairy cows. These characteristics, along with the docile nature of the giant eland, have made it the target of domestication efforts in Africa and Russia.

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

 

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

None

 

Conservation Status

Populations of the giant eland have been declining due to excessive hunting, habitat destruction by agricultural expansion, and the spread of rinderpest. Most of the remaining numbers live in the protected park areas of southeastern Senegal.