Greater Kudu bull

Photo Details: Greater Kudu bull (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) standing side-on showing a fine pair of spiral horns, Weenen Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

This photograph, taken on a late winter’s afternoon, is enhanced by the warm light that adds a golden glow to the tall winter grass and a pinkish tinge to the clouds in the distance. The angle of the sun also ensures there’s a “catchlight” in the kudu’s eyes, which always adds vibrancy and sparkle to wildlife pictures. The open grassland, with thickets of acacia trees in the background, is typical of the Weenen landscape (see previous post for more on Weenen Game Reserve).

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel; Lens: Canon EOS 100-400 IS zoom; Focal Length: 200mm; Shutter-speed: 1/160; Aperture F6.3; ISO: 400.

Additional Info: The greater kudu is found across large parts of east, central, and southern Africa. With it’s tall, regal physique, attractive coloration, and distinctive spiral horns, the male kudu is undoubtedly southern Africa’s – and possibly the continent’s – most iconic antelope. Its head appears on numerous safari-related logos and branding, and it features on the South African R2 coin.

The long spiral horns can grow to 1.87m (6ft) in length, incorporating three full turns, while the average length is around 1.2m (4ft). The face is dark with a distinctive white chevron running between the eyes and a shorter white line on each cheek. The male also has a beard on the lower jaw.

The overall body color varies from reddish brown to blue-gray, with six to 10 white stripes running vertically down the sides.

The male’s average shoulder height is around 1.45m (4ft 8in), making the kudu Africa’s second tallest antelope (after the Eland). The female (cow) is quite a lot smaller at a height of 1 to1.4m (3 to 4ft 6in) and does not have horns.

The kudu’s main enemies are lions, leopards, and smaller predators like hyenas and wild dogs. Kudu are also frequent victims of the hunter’s rifle as their horns are much prized as trophies. Surprisingly though, the long and twisty horns don’t get in the way when a kudu flees from predators through thick bush and forests – it simply lifts its head so the horns lie flat along its back.

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