265 to 600 lb.
50 to 58 in. at the shoulder
Open woodlands, open grassy plains
Lions, cheetahs, hunting dogs, hyenas
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 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.
Wildebeest bulls have a wide array of loud vocalizations, from moans to explosive snorts.
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.
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.
Our solutions to ensuring the wildebeest continues to thrive:
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.
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.
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.
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