Tuesday, September 27, 2011

ABC Wednesday: K is for Kudu

This is a male Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), a big antelope species that lives in most of southern and eastern Africa. Only the males carry those horns and it takes about six years for them to grow into their final shape.

a female

Kudus prefer their habitat to be covered with trees and bushes for cover. They are not as fast as other antelopes and don't have the stamina to outrace a predator over a long distance, so they need cover to hide in. A hunted kudu tends to stop and look back over its shoulder when it has reached cover, which is often fatal when the hunter is a human. Other predators are lions, leopards and African wild dogs. Kudus can jump up to three metres high, that's twice their own shoulder height.


Kudu females live with their offspring in groups of up to 20 individuals, the males are usually solitary, although younger males may live together in bachelor groups. During mating season, the males will fight with their horns, mostly without hurting each other. Fights only occur when the males are of the same size, otherwise the smaller and weaker male will withdraw.

Kudu horns have been used as musical instruments by various African people. Robert Baden-Powell encountered it during a stay with the Matabele and used it at Boy Scout meetings and Jamborees. Yemenite Jews traditionally made Kudu horns into Shofarot, here's a photo.
On a weird note, there's a sport called Kudu dung spitting. Yes, really. I'm as sure as I can be with only online sources, at least. There's a world championship even. So far, this is the most odd thing I have learned while researching my ABC Wednesday posts.

Photos were taken at Hagenbecks Tierpark and Burgers Zoo. Sources and further reading:
Honolulu Zoo
Ultimate Ungulate
Animal Diversity Web

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