The ox-like Cape eland is the largest of Southern Africa's antelope and the second largest on the continent. They occur in Kruger, but the drier western conservation areas are a better place to encounter them. Safaris to the Etosha National park are ideal.

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An eland's coat fades from a camel color on its back to a greyer and tanner color down to its torso, with subtle white stripes vertically down its sides. Females of the species are smaller than males. Both males and females have horns.

They inhabit Kenya and Zambia and scattered areas in Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa. In South Africa, they occur naturally in the Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, with larger populations in Parks like the Etosha National Park in Namibia or the Serengeti in Tanzania.

Scientific Name
Taurotragus oryx
700Kg (M) 460Kg (f)
Shoulder Height
1.7m (M) 1.5cm (F)
Mating Season
Throughout the year


The name of this species does justice to its current conservation status because they occur widely and are by no means vulnerable. Their population consists of roughly 136 000 individuals. It is steadily growing in countries like Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia, with 30% of their overall population found on private lands like game farms and another 50% within protected areas. However, the total population of this species is decreasing slightly due to the loss and destruction of habitat in their more northern distribution areas. Still, due to the many conservation programs and monitoring put in place, this species is in no apparent danger just yet.


Elands, like most antelope, prefer grassland, savanna, and woodland areas. Generally, they prefer drier or more arid savanna or grassland areas with flowering flora species. Ideally, they live in semi-desert areas with shrubs and bushes to feed on and a water source nearby. They avoid dense forest areas and can usually be found in woodland areas just south and just north of the central grassland areas of the park, where the landscape slowly becomes denser and richer in woody plants and thicker vegetation.

Social Organization

Elands are non-territorial and very mobile antelope, with home ranges 100's of square kilometers in size. In Kenya, their home ranges were at least 174 square kilometers, and in some areas, over 400 square kilometers. Herds are usually bigger than herds of other antelope, consisting of more than 100, compared to about 20 members in other antelope herds. In the Serengeti in Tanzania, herds of 500 strong live on the open plains. Many different types of eland herds are found, some only juveniles, some only adults, all living in the same home range, showing the open, accessible nature of the eland.

Finest Safari Areas in Africa for Encountering Cape Eland

We recommend the following National Parks and Private Reserves for the best chances of spotting the eland on safari game drives and bush walks.

Social Behavior

Calves play a vital role in the whole herd's social activities. You could see them licking and playing with other members of the herd, brightening their moods. Mothers and calves regularly communicate, and males battling for dominance make a bleating sound, but otherwise, elands are not very vocal socially. However, they make a clicking sound that has been shown to increase social activity within the herd. Most of their time is spent on survival, eating, drinking, running, and sleeping most frequently, or determining their rank within the herd. They are very athletic antelope and can run fast for their large size.


They mate year-round and, conversely, give birth year-round, but there are birth peaks in the late dry and early wet seasons when the Elands' food source peaks in its availability. They mate for three days when the females are in heat. Females usually reach sexual maturity at two and a half years of age. They have a nine-month gestation period before their young are born. The mating rituals of Elands involve lots of touching, whether it be rubbing against each other or resting their heads on one another.

Anti-Predator Behavior

When attacked or threatened by predators, females will protect their young, alone or all females together, never fleeing. Males never escape from predators but instead go on the offensive. It is, however, a rare occurrence for these large animals to be threatened, even by lions. It is more common that the herd of these antelope will ignore predators unless their calves are in danger. The only predators the eland fears are humans.

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