The eland antelope is the world’s largest antelope. Large males may weigh up to a tonne and they get an almost grey fur, which is much darker than the females. In addition, they get a larger dewlap under their chin.
The females weigh 300–600 kg, while the males are larger and may in extreme cases weigh over 900 kg.
The eland prefers open savannahs, semi-deserts or primordial dry forests. In favourable conditions, eland antelopes can be found in loosely cohesive herds of several hundred animals, although the group size is usually considerably smaller. Its composition does not seem to be governed by any strict social organization. Adult males are not territorial. All adults help protect the calves against lions and other predators – a type of social behaviour which is very rare among antelopes.
The eland is very adaptable to different types of vegetation and can therefore adapt to many types of environment.
The eland may live 15–20 years in the wild and around 25 years in zoos.
The eland has lately been put under severe pressure from humans. The species is bred commercially in South Africa and Zimbabwe because it grows faster than domestic cattle and its milk has a higher content of protein and fat.
Normally one calf is born after a gestation period of eight to nine months. The mating period is most intense during the rainy season.
The eland is the slowest antelope and can ”only” reach speeds of 40 km/h, however, they can keep this speed for long distances.
During long sprints the eland can withstand a raise of body temperature by a whole 7 degrees. The ability to cope with high body temperatures makes it, and several related antelope species, extremely hardy under hot conditions.
Despite its size, the eland is also extremely good at high jumps and may scale obstacles as high as 2.5 meter.