Wildebeest boast the largest
mammal migration in the world

  • Spread the word

Wildebeest

Conservation Status:

Least Threatened

  • Can live to be 40 years old
  • Migrate close to 1,000 miles each year
  • Can run up to 40 miles per hour

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Connochaetes taurinus

Weight

265 to 600 lb.

Size

50 to 58 in. at the shoulder

Life span

20 years

Habitat

Open woodlands, open grassy plains

Diet

Herbivorous

Gestation

8.5 months

Predators

Lions, cheetahs, hunting dogs, hyenas

Habitat

Where do wildebeest live?

Wildebeest can be found in the plains and acacia savannas of Eastern Africa. 

Tags: Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kilimanjaro, East Africa, Southern Africa View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What are wildebeest? 

The wildebeest (also called a gnu) is a member of the antelope family. It has a large, box-like head with curving horns. The front end of the body is heavily built, while the hindquarters are slender with spindly legs. They have a gray coat and a black mane as well as a beard that can be black or white. There are several races of wildebeest. The species forming the large herds of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem of Kenya and Tanzania is known as the western white-bearded wildebeest, while the eastern white-bearded races inhabits Kenya and Tanzania east of the Gregory Rift. The brindled, or blue, race occurs south of the Zambezi River. 

Behavior & Diet

Wildebeest are driven by their appetites.

Wildebeest are continually on the move, as they seek favorable supplies of grass and water. The famous Serengeti population of wildebeest is a very large nomadic group. This group makes a migratory circle of 500 to 1,000 miles each year, beginning right after the calving season at the start of the year. They are relentless in their advance and many are injured, lost (especially calves), or killed. By the end of the dry season, the wildebeest have almost exhausted the grazing lands and return to the Serengeti plains as the rains begin. 

They are noisy creatures.

Wildebeest bulls have a wide array of loud vocalizations, from moans to explosive snorts.

The majority of female wildebeest give birth around the same time.

About 80% of the females calve within the same two- to three-week period, creating a glut for predators and enabling more calves to survive the crucial first few weeks. 

Gallery
  • Wildebeest Billy Dodson
  • Wildebeest Mayu Mishina
  • Wildebeest Craig R. Sholley
  • Wildebeest Craig R. Sholley
Challenges

Habitat fragmentation poses a great threat to wildebeest.

The wildebeest’s habitat is threatened by fragmentation, which is caused when land is fenced off, bisected by a highway, such as the proposed Serengeti Highway—a plan opposed by African Wildlife Foundation—or divided by some other method.

Solutions

Our solutions to ensuring the wildebeest continues to thrive:

  • Engage governments and policy makers.

    AWF works with government entities to help plan and propose alternative solutions to habitat fragmentation. In the case of the Serengeti Highway, AWF provides its scientists and researchers as resources to assist in proper planning to ensure a balance between modernization and conservation.

  • Work with communities.

    We engage communities to help with agricultural planning to provide tools and techniques for sustainable agricultural growth. By providing these resources, AWF is able to minimize impact on local wildlife while helping to maximize food security and income for people.

Projects

Will you show the wildebeest your support?

With your help, AWF can continue working on critical initiatives like providing agricultural training to communities and working with governments to prevent habitat fragmentation. Donate for a cause that will help with wildlife conservation and ensure the wildebeest does not become an endangered species.

Get Involved

Become a member

Join African Wildlife Foundation as a member for just $25. Your partnership is vital to our mission to protect Africa’s most precious - and imperiled - creatures.

Join Now

  • Spread the word