Greater Kudu Greater Kudu
Greater Kudu

Scientific Classification

Common Name
greater kudu
Artiodactyla; more recently Cetartiodactyla
Genus Species
Tragelaphus (goat-like deer) strepsiceros (twisted horns)

Fast Facts

The Great kudu is a large antelope with tawny coloring and thin, white, sparse vertical stripes. Greater kudu may be distinguished from a similar species, the lesser kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis), by the presence of a throat mane.
The male has long black twisted horns. Females do not have horns
Approximately 1.2 to 1.5 m (4 to 5 ft.)
Male:  225 to 357.7 kg (495 to 787 lbs.)
Female:  180 to 235 kg (396 to 517 lbs.)
Great kudus 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.
Gestation lasts approximately 6 to 7 months; 1 and occasionally 2 calves at birth
Sexual Maturity
1 to 2 years
Life Span
Approximately 15 years in the wild
Historically, the greater kudu occurred over much of eastern and southern Africa, from Chad nearly to the Red Sea, south to the Eastern Cape, west to Namibia and north to mid-Angola. While it has disappeared from substantial areas, mainly in the north of its range, it generally persists in a greater part of its former range. Greater kudus may now be extinct in Djibouti, where a few were reported to survive in the south on the Ethiopia border in the 1980s.
Preferred habitat includes mixed scrub woodland acacia, and mopane bush on lowlands, hills, and mountains. The great kudu has been seen up to 2,400 m (7,800 ft.) in Ethiopia.
Global: Total population numbers have been estimated at around 482,000, with about 15% in protected areas and 61% on private land. Population trends are generally increasing in protected areas and on private land and decreasing elsewhere. Their population appears to be stable and is not severely fragmented. The largest population may be found in Namibia.
IUCN: Least concern
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. Greater kudus are one of the largest antelopes.
  2. They produce one of the loudest sounds made by antelope in the form of a gruff bark.
  3. Kudu horns have spirals, which allow males to spar by interlocking horns. The males then proceed to shove and twist until one opponent is knocked off balance and thrown down. Some reports show male kudus found with locked horns, even in death.

Ecology and Conservation

Adult kudus are an important food source for many larger predators, such as lions and spotted hyenas. Many medium-sized carnivores prey upon kudu yearlings and calves. Newborns also serve as a food source for smaller predators.

The greater kudu is much sought after by hunters, both for the magnificent horns of bulls and more generally for their high-quality meat. They are one of the most commonly hunted species in southern Africa, and generate the highest proportion (13.2%) of hunting income in South Africa.

The greater kudu may also suffer from habitat destruction in some parts of their range.


Estes, R.D. The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing Co., 1993.

Gotch, A.F. Mammals-Their Latin Names Explained. Poole, U.K.: Blandford Press Btd., 1979.

Nowak, R. (ed.). Walkers Mammals of the World. Vol. II, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Parker, S.P, (ed.). Grizmek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol 5. New York: McGraw Hill Pub. Co., 1990.

IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2016. Tragelaphus strepsiceros. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22054A50196734. Downloaded on 15 October 2018.