The eland is the world’s
largest and slowest antelope

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Conservation Status:

Least Threatened

  • Native to more than 15 African countries
  • Can live up to 25 years in captivity
  • Of the population, 50% live on protected land

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Taurotragus oryx


1,300 to 1,500 lb.


About 70 in. at the shoulder

Life span

15 to 20 years


Open plains




About 280 days




Where do elands live?

Elands are found in grassland, mountain, subdesert, acacia savanna, and miombo woodland areas. They distance themselves from deserts, forests, and swamps.

Tags: DRC, West/Central Africa, Zambezi, Cameroon View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What is an eland?

The cow-like eland is the world’s largest antelope. However, it has the endurance to maintain a trot indefinitely and can jump an 8-foot fence from a standstill. Both males and females have horns that spiral tightly, though female horns tend to be longer and thinner. Usually fawn or tawny-colored, elands turn gray or bluish-gray as they get older; the oldest animals become almost black. A tuft of black hair grows out of the male eland's prominent dewlap, the loose fold of skin that hangs down from the neck. Adult males also have a mat of hair on the forehead that grows longer and denser as the animal ages. 

Behavior & Diet

Elands prefer a vegetarian diet.

Elands browse more than they graze, feeding in areas where shrubs and bushes provide the leaves they prefer and using their horns to bring twigs and branches into reach. They also consume certain fruits, large bulbs, and tuberous roots.

Older males tend to be more solitary.

The social organization of the eland is somewhat different from that of other antelopes. The older the male, the more solitary its tendencies, while younger animals may form small groups. Males are also more sedentary than females, who may travel widely, especially during the dry season. Females and young are found in loosely cohesive groups. Calves spend a lot of time grooming and licking each other, developing bonds even stronger than those of a calf with its mother. 

Eland young are born year round.

Females with young calves come together in nursery groups. After the young are weaned at about 3 months, the mothers rejoin the female herds, and the calves remain together in the nursery group. With year-round births, some adult females are always present in a nursery group and they defend all juveniles present, not just their own. Juveniles usually remain in the nursery groups until they are almost 2 years old, when they begin to wander off and join other loose groupings of their own sex.

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Elands have experienced population decline due to hunting.

Their rich milk, tasty meat, and useful hides have made elands popular ranch animals and hunting targets.

Human and livestock expansion destroy eland habitats. 

As human populations are growing and expanding settlements and agriculture, they are encroaching on elands' living spaces and destroying habitats and food sources.


Our solutions to protecting the eland:

  • Develop conservation tourism.

    African Wildlife Foundation brings together private investors with local communities to construct conservation tourism lodges like The Sanctuary at Ole Lentille in Kenya. The lodge provides sustainable income for the community, and the 20,000-acre conservancy is a safe home to elands and other wildlife.

  • Set aside space for wildlife.

    AWF works with governments and villages to designate wildlife corridors—large swaths of land that elands can use to roam freely and safely from one park, or country, to another. Corridors link protected areas and allow elands to follow rains or travel to their calving grounds.


Will you show the eland your support?

With your help, AWF can work on critical initiatives that provide safe spaces for elands to live like setting aside land for wildlife corridors and developing conservation tourism. Donate for a cause that will help with wildlife conservation and ensure the eland does not become an endangered species. 

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