Wildebeest boast the largest
mammal migration in the world

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Wildebeest

Conservation Status:

Least Threatened

  • Can live to be 40 years old
  • Migrate close to 1,600 kilometers each year
  • Can run up to 65 kilometers each year

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Connochaetes taurinus

Weight

118 to 270 kilograms (260-595 pounds)

Size

123 centimeters in length (48 inches)

Life span

20 years in the wild

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

Physical Characteristics

What are wildebeest? 

They (also called a gnu) are a member of the antelope family. They have a large, box-like head with curving horns. The front end of their 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 inhabit 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.

These large mammals 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 800 to 1,610 kilometers (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.

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 percent 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
  • Wildebeests Charge
  • Stampede
  • Wildebeest Itch in Slow Motion
  • Wildebeest Craig R. Sholley
  • Wildebeest Craig R. Sholley
  • Wildebeest Billy Dodson
  • Wildebeest Mayu Mishina
Challenges

Habitat fragmentation poses a great threat to wildebeest.

Their habitat is threatened by fragmentation, which is caused when land is fenced off for agriculture. While they are widespread and abundant in certain areas, the spread of civilization and agriculture, the reduction of water sources, and poaching are threatening this iconic species’ survival.

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. 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 can minimize the impact on local wildlife while helping to maximize food security and income for people.

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