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Werribee Open Range Zoo

Eland

Head out on safari at Werribee Open Range Zoo to get up close to the world’s largest antelope. The Common Eland is able to adapt to a range of different habitats including sub-desert, acacia savannah, grasslands, woodlands and even the mountains. They are primarily browsers and may travel long distances in search of food, feeding in areas where shrubs and bushes are plentiful. They use their long, tightly-spiralled horns to pull twigs and branches into reach. They also consume certain fruits, large bulbs, and tuberous roots when they can find them.

The social organisation of the Eland is somewhat different from that of other antelopes. The older males tend to live a relatively solitary existence while females and young Eland live together in groups – sometimes huge herds of several hundred animals. Females have a gestation period of nine months and give birth to one calf each time. Females with new calves then come together in nursery groups before weaning their young at about three months of age, at which time the mothers re-join the herd and the calves remain together in the nursery group or ‘creche’ until they are almost two years old. With year-round births, there are always adult females present in the nursery group and they defend all juveniles present, not just their own.

The Common Eland' is currently classified as ‘Least Concern’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), however the population is decreasing. Over 50% of the remaining population of Eland live on protected land with a further 30% on private property. Eland have experienced population decline mainly due to hunting and destruction of habitat as a result of human and livestock expansion. 

Eland with calf

Eland calves born at Werribee Open Range Zoo

There are some new faces on the savannah at Werribee Open Range Zoo, with the team welcoming the arrival of seven Eland calves during the last month.

Found across Southern Africa, Eland are Africa’s largest species of antelope, with males weighing between 400 – 1,000kg.

9 January 2017
  • Eland are the world’s largest and slowest antelope! They can still reach speeds of up to 45km p/h but can only maintain this for a short time. They do have excellent stamina though and can maintain a steady trot for a great distance.
  • Despite their size Eland are excellent jumpers. They can reach great heights (up to 2.5m) and cover huge distances in a single bound!
  • Male Eland can weigh as much as 1,000kg! Females tend to range from 300-600kg.
  • The male Eland have a unique physical feature called a dewlap. A dewlap is a piece of loose skin which hangs from their neck. It is believed the dewlap helps to keep the eland cool in the heat.