A wildebeest (or gnu) is an animal. It is a large hoofed mammal in the Bovidae family. There are two species of wildebeest. Both live in Africa.
Taxonomy[change | change source]
- Genus Connochaetes
- Blue wildebeest or brindled gnu (Connochaetes taurinus)
- Black wildebeest or white-tailed gnu (Connochaetes gnou)
Size[change | change source]
Wildebeest grow to 1.15 to 1.40 metres (at the shoulder) and they weigh between 150 and 250 kilograms when they are fully grown. They live in the plains and open woodlands in southern Africa. The biggest herds can be found in the Serengeti. Wildebeest can live for more than 20 years.
What they eat[change | change source]
Like other members of the same family (antelopes, deer and goats, amongst others), they mainly eat grass. But since in the African grasslands, there is not always grass, wildebeest are forced to migrate to find food all year round. In May, about 1.5 million animals move from the grasslands to the woods. In November they move back; there is grass in the plains in summer.
Breeding and mating season[change | change source]
The cows (female Gnus) will calve (give birth to the young) in summer in the plains. After the females have given birth, the breeding season begins. The dominant males mark off (and defend) some territory. They do this with feces, and with scent.
Wildebeest are an important part of the ecosystem. With their feces, they fertilize the ground, and their trampling is good for new growth. They also provide food for predators, like lions and hyenas.
References[change | change source]
- The Columbia Encyclopedia Archived 2004-09-08 at the Wayback Machine
Other websites[change | change source]
- The Great Migration Archived 2006-02-15 at the Wayback Machine, on migration patterns of the wildebeest
- Wildebeest images