Humans covet the kudu’s
majestic horns

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Kudu

Conservation Status:

Near Threatened

  • There are 2 subspecies of kudu
  • Approximately 118K lesser kudu remain
  • Lesser Kudu can run up to 62 miles per hour

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros)
Lesser kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis)

Weight

420 to 600 lb. (greater kudu)
130 to 220 lb. (lesser kudu)

Size

55 in. at the shoulder (greater kudu)
35 to 43 in. at the shoulder (lesser kudu)

Life span

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

Habitat

Dense brush or forest

Diet

Herbivorous

Gestation

Up to 9 months

Predators

Leopards, hunting dogs, spotted hyenas, humans

Habitat

Where do kudu live?

Lesser kudus are found in acacia and commiphora thornbush in arid savannas; they rely on thickets for security and are rarely found in open or scattered bush. Greater kudus are found in woodlands and bushlands.

Tags: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Maasai Steppe, East Africa View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What is a kudu?

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 between the eyes. Males have long, spiral horns. The greater kudu's horns are spectacular and can grow as long as 72 inches, making 2-1/2 graceful twists.

Female greater kudus are noticeably smaller than the males. By contrast, lesser kudus are even smaller—about 42 inches at the shoulder. Males weigh around 220 pounds, and females generally weigh about 50 pounds less. Lesser kudus have smaller horns than the greater kudus and conspicuous white patches on the upper and lower parts of the neck. Although both species are bluish-gray, grayish-brown, or rust color, the lesser kudus have five to six more lateral white stripes, for a total of 11 to 15. Both species have a crest of long hair along the spine, and greater kudus also have a fringe under the chin.

Behavior & Diet

Kudus love to feast on fruits. 

Kudus are browsers and eat leaves and shoots from a variety of plants. In dry seasons, they eat wild watermelons and other fruit for the liquid they provide. The lesser kudu is less dependent on water sources than the greater kudu.

They are peaceful rulers.

Male kudu sometimes form small bachelor groups, but more commonly, they are solitary and widely dispersed. Dominance between males is usually quickly and peacefully determined by a lateral display in which one male stands sideways in front of the other and makes himself look as large as possible. Males only join females—who form small groups of six to 10 with their offspring—during mating season. Calves grow rapidly and at 6 months of age are fairly independent of their mothers.

Mothers stash their young out of sight for long periods of time. 

The pregnant female departs from her group to give birth, leaving the newborn lying out for 4 or 5 weeks of age, one of the longest periods of all the antelopes. The calf then begins to accompany its mother for short periods of time and by 3 or 4 months of age, it is with her constantly. Soon after, the mother and calf rejoin the female's group. Calves grow rapidly and at 6 months, they are fairly independent of their mothers.

They wear camouflage coats.

Their cryptic coloring and markings protect kudus by camouflaging them. If alarmed, they usually stand still and are very difficult to spot.

Gallery
  • Kudu AWF
  • Kudu James Weis
  • Kudu
  • Kudu AWF
Challenges

Humans are preying on kudus.

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

Kudu habitats are being destroyed. 

People are taking over kudu’s habitats for charcoal burning and farming. 

Solutions

Our solutions to protecting the kudu:

  • Set aside safe areas for travel.

    African Wildlife Foundation engages government entities to help plan and propose alternative solutions to habitat loss and fragmentation. In the case of the Serengeti Highway, which would disrupt migratory patterns and segment habitats, AWF provides its scientists and researchers as resources to assist in proper planning to ensure a balance between modernization and conservation.

  • Capitalize on conservation tourism.

    AWF engages private investors and brings them together with communities living in critical landscapes to construct tourism lodges like Satao Elerai, a luxury tourist lodge situated on 5,000 acres in Kenya. The land is protected, so kudu and other wildlife can roam safely and freely, and the revenue is reinvested into the community and into local wildlife conservation.

Projects

Will you show kudus your support?

With your help, AWF can continue to work on critical initiatives in areas where kudus live like conservation tourism and engaging with government entities to plan and propose alternative solutions to avoid habitat fragmentation. Donate for a cause that will help with wildlife conservation and ensure the kudu does not become an endangered species.

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