Kudu

Kudu: Greater, Cape and Lesser

NOTE: Cape Kudu are slightly smaller than their cousin, the Southern Greater Kudu. Horn length averages 44 inches on mature bulls with anything over 49 inches being exceptional. The largest Cape Kudu bulls sport horns of 53-55 inches. These would be very rare indeed.

The greater kudu is considered by many to be the most handsome of the tragelaphine antelopes, which includes the bongo, eland, nyala, bushbuck and sitatunga.

Kudus, both the greater kudu and its close cousin the lesser kudu, have stripes and spots on the body, and most have a chevron of white hair on the forehead between the eyes.

Greater and lesser kudu males have long, spiral horns; occasionally a female will have small ones. The greater kudu's horns are spectacular and can grow as long as 72 inches, making 2 1/2 graceful twists. These beautifully shaped horns have long been prized in Africa for use as musical instruments, honey containers and symbolic ritual objects. In some cultures the horns are thought to be the dwelling places of powerful spirits, and in others they are a symbol for male potency. The horns are seldom used in defense against predators; nor are they an impediment in wooded habitats-the kudu tilts the chin up and lays the horns against the back, moving easily through dense bush.

Female greater kudus are noticeably smaller than the males. By contrast, lesser kudus are even smaller, about 42 inches at the shoulder; males weigh around 220 pounds while females generally weigh about 50 pounds less. Lesser kudus have smaller horns than the greater kudus and conspicuous white patches on the upper and lower parts of the neck. Although both species are bluish-gray, grayish-brown or rust color, the lesser has five to six more lateral white stripes, for a total of 11 to 15. Both species have a crest of long hair along the spine, and greater kudus also have a fringe under the chin.