Greater Kudu


Scientific Name

Tragelaphus strepsiceros

Species Survival Plan



Forest edge, savanna and woodlands


Juveniles - lion, spotted hyena, cheetah, wild dog and leopard
Adults - lion, hyena, cheetah and man


Leaves, herbs, fallen fruits, succulents, vines, flowers and new grasses

Originally Native To



48 inches at shoulders


Male - 550 lb.
Female - 375 lb.


Antelope with vertical white stripes on sides and white chevron between eyes; males have long spiraled horns averaging 48 inches

Gestation Period

9 months


1 calf

Birth Season

February - March


Wild ?
Captivity 20 years

Social Behavior

Small herds of females and young; bulls normally solitary


About Greater Kudu

Very large antelope, the male greater kudu have thick, spiraled horns that can reach six feet in length. Sexually dimorphic, only the males have horns and an abundant fringe of hairs from the chin down the neck. Lesser kudu do not have a throat mane.

Both sexes have 6-10 vertical white stripes on their sides, a white chevron between the eyes and three white spots on the cheek below the eye. They also have exceptionally large pink ears, which give them excellent hearing.

Related to buffalo, kudu engage in social licking, which is rare in antelope. The tongue is also used for gathering and grasping food.

Greater kudu are browsers; they can exist for long periods without drinking, obtaining sufficient moisture from their food, but become water dependent at times when the vegetation is very dry. Their diet may include leaves, grass, roots, and sometimes fruits and tubers.

The mating season is May to August. The kudu bull continues to grow his muscular neck and shoulders, as well as his horns, throughout his life.

Kudu calves are born in tall grass or any other sufficiently dense cover and remain concealed for about three weeks. Daily, the mothers summon their calves with a smacking sound, nurse them and hide them again until they are strong enough to join the female herd.

Unlike most other antelope species, kudu have been seen nursing calves other than their own. Calves remain with their mother’s herd for up to two years. A typical female herd has less than 12 members.

A greater kudu standing in a thicket will rely on flight to the point of letting a person come within 40 feet before giving a loud, sharp alarm bark and fleeing. This gruff bark is one of the loudest sounds made by an antelope.

Alternatively, they may try to sneak away from a disturbance. They are very skillful at concealment.

The vertical stripes on their sides provide camouflage in their natural habitat along the edges of forests. To run through thick brush, the males lay their horns on their back. The greater kudu has the ability to leap and clear bushes and fences eight feet high when trying to escape danger.

In the wild, the greater kudu only emerges from the forest at night to feed. They are normally active in early morning and evening, but become nocturnal in developed areas.

Their preferred habitat includes mixed scrub acacia woodlands and mopane woodlands on lowlands, hills, and mountains. The greater kudu has been seen at up to 7,800 feet of elevation in Ethiopia.

At Fossil Rim, they live in the Buffer Pasture - the second pasture you enter.


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As a private nonprofit corporation, Fossil Rim does not receive national or state government support. Every cent spent or donated here goes in some way, directly or indirectly, toward the care of our animals.