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The African Cape Eland

The Cape Enland's name is derived from the Dutch word for moose. This “cow/ox/moose-like” is the world s largi si wild ruminant (a ruminant is a mammal that digests plant-based food by initially softening it within the animal s first stomach, then regurgitating the semi-digested mass (cud), & chewing it again [several times]. It further breaks down plant matter & stimulates digestion). Herbivore, browser & grazer (browsers glean leaves, bark, & green stems from plants, while grazers clip vegetation at or near ground level).

The eland (technically Taurotragus oryx) antelope is the world’s largest species of antelope. It has a mass of almost 2000#, which is the double that of the kudu & is about 70” long. The females have a tan coat, while males have a darker tan coat with a bluish-grey tinge. There may also be a series of 10-16 white, vertical torso stripes on the sides of bulls together with markings on legs. As males age they tend to turn a gray or bluish grey & finally almost black. Males develop a tuft of black hair on their forehead & nose & an enlarged dewlap (pendulous skin under the neck of an animal, which laps or licks dew in grazing; the sagging human throat flesh on an older person). Eland have a hump at the shoulder. Both sexes have spiral horns (1 or 2 twists), about 26” long). The horns of males are shorter & thicker. The spiral horned Eland is one of Africa’s most sought after trophies. I couldn't resist buying a set of tfiese horns with an ostrich egg Setween them.

Eland form larger herds up to 500 members. Although they are one of the slowest antelope, they are remarkable jumper easily clearing obstacles in excess of 6-8’ from a stand still. It has the endurance to maintain a trot for some time. When walking, tendon or joints in the eland's foreleg produce a sharp clicking sound, the cause is not known (I didn’t get to hear it). The sound carries some distance & is a good indication of an approaching herd. Scientists take it as a form of communication. Most common predators are Lion, spotted hyena & humans.
Elands have been v mi-domesticated & may be farmed and/or hunted for their tasty meat & in some cases can be better utilized in game ranching than cattle since they are more suited to their natural habitat. Now some Southern African farmers are switching from raising cattle to eland. Due to the eland's size & docility as well as its rich milk (eland milk has about triple the fat content & twice the protein of dair;, cow’s), meat & useful skin. Other benefits of raising eland over cattle include much lower water requirement, faster breeding & growth, & earlier SSL maturity eland are the better choice. Their weight gain gives them a 14 % higher dressing , J . out weight than cattle & can be raised at a lesser cost. Its need for a vast range to find U (Mr! i sufficient browsing & its low density in number create game management problems & this new idea may not be viable in the ‘<ong term Their average lifespan is 15-20v or more.

The eland is often considered a plains-dwtlling animal. They browse more than graze feeding Ktb. .....m iini ill in areas where shrubs & bushes grow that provide the leaves they prefer. They use their horn- to bring twins & branches into reach. Eland typically feed on foliage, but also eat a variety of * ids, seed pods, herbs, fruits, laige bulbs & tuberous roots. During the rainy season 50 to 80% of their diet is green grass.

Although eland groups are not very stable & animals move from one to another, a dominance hierarchy based on size, strength & age does exist. The older the male, the more solitary its tendencies, while younger animals may form small groups. Males are also more sedentary than females, that may travel widely, especially during the dry season. With year-round births, some adult females with their calves come together in nursery groups & they defend all juveniles present, not just their own.

Here, the young spend a lot of time grooming & In i ing each other & developing bonds even stronger than those of a calf with its mother. The attraction calves exhibit towards each other probably developed as a defense tactic. After the young are weaned at about 3mo, the mothers rejoin the female herds & the calves remain together in the nursery group until they are almost 2 years old when they begin to wander off & join other loose groupings of their own sex.

The eland is the animal most often depicted in the early rock art of East Africa. It is also their most spiritual animal. In the girls' puberty rituals, a young gjrls isolated in her hut at her first menstruation. The women of the tribe perform the Eland Bull Dance where they imitate the mating behavior of the eland cows. This ritual will keep the girl beautifu. Free from hunger & thrust & at peace. As part of the marriage ritual the man gives the fat from the  eland's heart to the girls parents. At a later stage the girl is anointed with Eland fat. In the trance dance the eland is considered the most potent of all animals and the shaman aspire to process eland potency.

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