(Tragelaphus imberbis)

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Swahili Name:            Tandala Ndogo 
Scientific Name:  Tragelaphus imberbis
 Body length: 110-140cm/3.6-4.6 ft
Shoulder height:90-110cm/3-3.7ft
Tail lenght:25-40cm/10-16 in
Weight: 56-105kg/123-231 lb
Life Span:
7 to 8 years in the wild and up to 23 years in captivity (average 15 years)
Life Cycle: 
Weaning: After 6 months
Sexually Maturity: Females by 15 
months, males mature sexually at this
time, but  not socially mature until 4th
or 5th  year.
Habitat:   Dense bush or forest
Diet:   Herbivorous
Gestation:   222 days
Leopards, hunting dogs, spotted hyenasand humans
Range: Africa (Somalia)
Location in the Zoo: African Hoofed Stock Exhibit


General Information:

The Lesser Kudu is one of the most beautiful antelopes in Africa. Kudus are considered by many one of the most handsome of the tragelaphine antelopes, which are: bongo, eland, nyala, bushbuck and sitatunga. Their beautiful horns are the origin of the obscure tradition of scouting: Their elegant spiral horns hollowed out as a wind instrument, are used as signal horns to call Scout camps and training courses together. This happens all over the world. In Africa horns are also used for honey containers, musical instruments, and symbolic ritual instruments; the horns are thought to be the dwelling places of powerful spirits, and others as a symbol for male potency. 


Physical Characteristics:
{greater kudu moving through brush}

A lesser kudu is about 200 pounds and about 40 inches at the shoulder. Kudus have  stripes and spots on the body. They have white patches on the upper and lower parts of the neck, 11-15 very distinctive white stripes on the sides, a chevron between the eyes and a crest of long hair along the spine, there is no beard (imberbis=not bearded.) Male kudu are bluish-gray, grayish-brown, or have a rust color. Females and young are reddish-brown. In general kudus have slender legs with black and white markings. They have great spiral long horns. Horns can grow up to 72 inches, making 2&1/2 twists; occasionally females will have small horns. The horns are used in defense of predators; horns are not an impediment in wooded habitats; the kudu tilts the chin up and lays the horns against the back helping it to move easily through the dense bush. (The picture above shows a greater kudu as he moves through woodland)


Lesser kudus are originally from Africa (Somalia). They are found in acacia and commiphora thornbush in arid savannas; kudus inhabit the dry thorn-bush countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania ( Eastern Africa). Lesser kudus rely on thickets for security; the dense thickets in the plains of Africa provide the kudu cover in which to seclude itself. They are rarely found in the open or scattered bush.



Lesser kudus are secretive by nature. They are shy and wary in the wild. They appear in the morning or late afternoon, eat twigs, leaves and young shoots. The rest of the day they remain secluded in dense vegetation; they are usually active at night, seeking shelter soon after sunrise. The hierarchy among males is determined by age and size. Males about the same age and size show their dominance in sparring contests in which they slowly approach one another, lock horns and push back and forth until one gives up; no serious injuries result, but remains of animals have been found where two combatants have locked their horns in such way that they could not disengage. This is just a way to show dominance, which is usually quick and peaceful; at the end this is determined by a lateral display in which one male stands sideways in front of the other trying to look as large as possible so, if the other is suitably impressed, dominance is established. The areas overlap extensively with no apparent territoriality, and different parts are used in different times of the year. Individual home range averages 2.2 square kilometers for males and about 1.8 for females. Population density rarely exceeds one animal per square kilometer. The alarm call is a sharp bark.


Kudus are herbivorous; they primarily eat leaves, young shoots, twigs, and sometimes grasses and fruits. Since they live in drier areas of eastern and southern Africa, and wherever there is adequate low and medium level woody growth to provide food and shelter, they are browsers and eat leaves, shoots and a variety of plants. In dry seasons, they eat wild watermelons and other fruit for the liquid they provide; they drink water whenever available, although it is possible for them to go a one month without water. Where farming has developed near their habitat, kudus will sometimes make nocturnal visits to plantations and vegetable plots. It takes high fences to stop them, since they can jump up to 6 feet.



Gestation period is about 222 days or 8 months. They have only one young at the time; there is no fixed breed season and calves are born throughout the year. After birth, the young lie concealed away from their mother; the pregnant female departs from the group, leaving the newborn lying for four or five weeks, one of the longest periods of all the antelopes. Females and their offspring form small groups of 6 or 10. Males usually just join them during mating period. 

Males stay with their mothers for about 2 years and then become solitary, associating with females which are with their mothers only temporarily. Males sometimes males form small bachelor groups, but more commonly they are solitary and widely dispersed 

Their weaning is after 6 months. Females are sexually mature at about 15 months, males mature sexually at this time, although they do not become socially mature until their 4th or 5th year. Their average life span is about 15 years, they can live 7 or 8 years in the wild and 30 years in captivity.

Avoiding Danger:

When startled, a kudu flees with the tail held up, revealing the white underside and runs in a "rocking horse" fashion, throwing its hindquarters and tail high into the air. They are capable of jumping 7 feet into the air, (although its average is about 6 feet) often escaping danger by jumping over a bush instead of going around or through it. Their horns are not an impediment in wooded habitats.


The lesser kudu is classified as a low risk, conservation dependent species by the IUCN 

Comments About Lesser Kudu:

The zoo has a male and a female, who are potential breeders. Both animals are from Africa (Somalia)


Personal Observations :

I personally think lesser kudus are beautiful and very smart. There is something that I want to share that happened to me that day. The day I went to the zoo, it was empty. It was a Thursday afternoon and most of the zoo keepers were getting ready for some special event they were going to have at night, so, I was basically by myself at the zoo, as I was taking pictures of the Lesser Kudu I realize that the female kudu was hiding behind the male as if I was going to do something to her, the male was starring at me and seemed irritated. I have no idea what made him so mad, I decided to leave after briefly talking to a zoo keeper, because I knew that my presence was making them uncomfortable. This incident help me realize that they are smart they did not wanted me there and they let me know.


Source Materials and related Links:

Web sites:

The King Field Vol. 5 pg. 346-348
Guide to African mammals pg. 354-355

I visited the zoo


Page author:

Paola Morales  E-mail paopao01@hotmail

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