Our Beautiful World

Black Wildebeest, Free State, South Africa
Copyright: South African Tourism, Photo by ©Francois Maree

Family: Bovidae
Subfamily Alcelaphinae

Genus Connochaetes

Black Wildebeest, Connochaetes gnou
Blue Wildebeest, Connochaetes taurinus
Blue Wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus taurinus
Eastern White-bearded Wildebeest Connochaetes               taurinus albojubatus
Cookson's wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus cooksoni
Nyassaland Wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus johnstoni
Western White-bearded Wildebeest Connochaetes               taurinus mearnsi

Blue Wildebeest, Connochaetes taurinus


There are no other antelopes that looks like the wildebeest. It looks like it is put together of spareparts.
– the front could come from an ox, the back from a gazelle, the mane and the tale from a horse. This animal is making so
much fun during its youthhood that it has got the name 'clowns of the savannah'.

The specimen that forms the flock in Serengetis-Mara ecosystem in Tanzania and Kenya are known
as strioped, blue- or whiteberded wildebeest. Scientists are, however, sure that the blue wildebeest is limited to the
southern part of Tanzania.

In the ecosystem of Serengeti-Mara those animals are yearly wandering more than 800 to 1.800 kilometers.
The wandering starts most often right after they have got their calves in January or February from the short gras on the
plains of the southern of Serengeti. The wildebeests first move toward the Lake Victoria, crosses the grassy savannah
to the forested landscapes, and turn north into Mara. From there they begin their journey back south.
They are in no doubt where they are heading, and that makes them swin over rivers and lakes in such large numbers
that many are wounded, missing (especially calves), or killed by crocodiles and other predators.

ARKive video - Blue wildebeest crossing river on migration
Wildebeest, Connochaetes taurinus, crossing river on migration.
BBC Natural History Unit

Wildebeests are continuously wandering, and look up usable spots with gras and water.
They are active both during day and night, and moves often in long rows when they are on march
They may also cover long distances while trotting, but if necessary it also can run quite fast. Often you will see
zebras and thomson-gazelles companying them, as well as, (of course?) many of their predators.

flere bilder på

Blue Wildebeest - Mala Mala , Kruger Park Surrounds, South Africa
Copyright: South African Tourism - Photo by ©Richard Du Toit

Blue wildebeests wear dark stripes on the throat and on the sides. They live allover in the open savannah of southern Africa.
They are social creatures and live in groups of 20 to 40 animals, sometimes in larger herds, the members of which are
usually cows and calves, led by a bull. And there are herds consisting exclusively of bachelor bulls.

Blue Wildebeest
: Northern Cape Province, South Africa

Copyright: South African Tourism -Photo by: ©Hein Von Hörsten

Blue Wildebeest at waterhole, KwaZulu-Natal
Copyright: South African Tourism

Like Connochaetes taurinus, wild Connochaetes gnou were migratory in large herds. Black wildebeest were never
studied in their natural habitat, interacting with natural predators, however they seem to be more aggressive than their wild
cousins, and have attacked and killed keepers while in captivity. The largest existing herd numbers 330 head at Willem
Pretorius Game Reserve, Orange Free State. Herd size increases with forage density, female herds ranging from 14 to 32
and maintain a social dominance hierarchy. Unlike common wildebeest, black wildebeest do not groom each other or
rub their foreheads on other wildebeest's croups because of the projection of their horns. However, they occasionally
rub their cheeks on companions' necks.

Calves stay with their mothers until the next calf is born. These yearlings are driven out by the adult males.
During this process, calves are often separated from their mothers, resulting in what may be the main cause of captive calf
mortality. The yearlings form peaceful bachelor herds that may be tolerated by female groups late in the dry season.
(Estes, 1991; Huffman, 2004; Walker, 1968)

Originally, black wildebeest, or white-tailed gnus, ranged the highveld temperate grasslands during the dry winter and the
arid karroo during the rains. However, due to hide-hunting in the 19th century, they were reduced to living on protected
game farms in southern Africa
Source: Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer. 2000. "Connochaetes gnou" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web.
Accessed January 28, 2012 http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Connochaetes_gnou.html.

Black Wildebeest - Natal Midlands
Copyright: South African Tourism
, Photo by ©Philip van den Berg

Black wildebeest are dark brown to black in color, males being darker in color than females. Both sexes become lighter in
coat color in the summer, and develop shaggier coats in the winter. Like common wildebeest, Connochaetes gnou possesses
a bushy beard and mane. However, Connochaetes gnou has a mane that stands up from its neck, rather than draping across
the neck, like that of Connochaetes taurinus. This bristly mane is cream to white in color and black at the tips. The beard is
black in color and stretches only along the lower jaw, not the length of the neck, as in Connochaetes taurinus.
Additionally, black wildebeest have an area of longer, dark hair between the forelegs, covering the chest, and another patch
of bristly black hair along the bridge of the nose.
Source: Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer. 2000. "Connochaetes gnou" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web.
Accessed January 28, 2012 http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Connochaetes_gnou.html.

Black Wildebeest, At Lindbergh Lodge, North West Province:
Copyright: South African Tourism, Photo by ©Jon Hrusa

Male C. gnou stand 111 to 121 cm high and can be up to 2m in length, females are slightly smaller. Paired horns curve down,
forward, and then up, like hooks, and are up to 78 cm in length (slightly thinner and shorter in females).
The base of the horns is widened and flattened to form a protective shield. These differ from Connochaetes taurinus in
that they project anteriorly, rather than laterally. Scent glands are present preorbitally, under the hair tuft, and on the forefeet..
Source: Lundrigan, B. and J. Bidlingmeyer. 2000. "Connochaetes gnou" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web.
Accessed January 28, 2012 http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Connochaetes_gnou.html.

Current number and antall og expansion

Numbers below from 1998 IUCN African Antelope Database:

Connochaetes taurinus mearnsi (Western white-bearded wildebeest)—938,190. Kenya, Tanzania.
Connochaetes t. albojubatus (Eastern white-bearded wildebeest)—72,420. Kenya, Tanzania.
Connochaetes t. taurinus (Blue or brindled wildebeest)—127,510. Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland.
Connochaetes t. johnstoni (Nyassa wildebeest)—73,450. Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique.
Connochaetes t. cooksoni (Cookson’s wildebeest)—11,850. Zambia.



 Wildebeest, from African Wildlife Foundation


over 250


over 500


over 225
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