The wildebeest, also known as the gnu, is native to the southern and eastern regions of Africa. There are two species of wildebeest, namely the black wildebeest and blue wildebeest. The shape of their horns and the color of their coats are the main distinguishing features of black and blue wildebeests. Of the two, the blue wildebeest is the largest.
Interesting facts about the wildebeest:
- The name wildebeest is an Afrikaans word that means wild beast. The wildebeest earned its name from its intimidating appearance.
- Wildebeests are herbivores and nomadic. Wildebeests migrate seasonally in search of grass and water. Their migration also ensures they don’t overgraze a single area.
- Herds of wildebeest can reach from tens to thousands. When a herd settles temporarily, male wildebeest, or bulls, become territorial.
- Wildebeests are seasonal breeders, and female wildebeests, or cows, commonly give birth to one calf after nine months of gestation. Most wildebeest cows give birth at the same time, and herds start migrating shortly after the calving season.
- A wildebeest’s natural life span is between 20 and 40 years if it manages to survive predators and the dangers that come with migration.
- Black wildebeests live in three different types of herds. These herds consist of territorial bulls competing for mates, female-only herds, and bachelor herds of juvenile males. Older bulls are usually isolated from herds.
- The wildebeest is not considered endangered, but the biggest threats to their existence are the fragmentation of their natural habitat for agriculture, poaching, and water scarcity.