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Lesser Kudu

Tragelaphus imberbis

  1. Not Evaluated
  2. Data Deficient
  3. Least Concern
  4. Near Threatened
  5. Vulnerable
  6. Endangered
  7. Critically Endangered
  8. Extinct in the Wild
  9. Extinct

About Us

Our bachelor group of lesser kudu can be found on the Road Safari drive in the African Forest alongside our primate species and herd of Bongo.

Our first male kudu arrived in 2012 and this is the first time Woburn has housed lesser kudu. Along with Edinburgh zoo we are the only establishment within the UK where lesser kudu can be seen.

Distribution
Lesser kudu are a forest antelope which are found in East Africa.
Habitat
Dry thorn bush and forest
Height
Height at shoulder: 90cm-110cm
Weight
Weight - 50kg-90kg
Gestation Period
8 months
Sexual Maturity
Males 4-5 years old
Lifespan
15 years
Threats
Hunting and habitat loss

Social Behaviour

Lesser kudu are shy and wary antelope and are mainly active during the night and early morning.  They camouflage well when they hide in the dense thickets of their environment. Males and females will fight for superiority, by standing up on their hind legs to try and knock the other down; however the males will tend to win as they are generally larger. They live in small herds of 2-5 individuals normally consisting of females and their calves and males tend to be solitary.

Breeding Behaviour

The gestation period of the lesser kudu is approximately 8 months and one calf is born. The female will separate herself from the small group to give birth. The calf only has a one in four chance of surviving to three years old as it is an easy target for predators such as leopards, hunting dogs and spotted hyenas, but it is also threatened by disease. Young males will stay with their mothers until they are two years old and will then become solitary; however they will not gain social status to mate with females until they are between four and five years old. When they are old enough to compete with other males they will fight by locking their horns and pushing each other backwards until one submits.

Diet

Kudu are primarily browsers and eat leaves, shrubs, herbs and fruits, but will also graze on grasses.

Physical Features

Male kudu are a greyish brown colour, while females are more of a chestnut colour. Both sexes have a number of white stripes across their backs and a white band on their upper and lower neck.  They also have a white chevron between their eyes. Only males develop horns. They can grow to 70cm and have one twist.

Threats

The main threats to wild lesser kudu populations include hunting by humans and overgrazing of cattle, which reduces the area of their natural environment. They are also hunted for their horns which are hollowed out and used for numerous things, including wind instruments and even for containing honey! It is also thought within spiritual rituals to assist with male virility. The rinderpest virus also threatens lesser kudu populations which periodically breaks out in its natural environment.