The lesser kudu

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The lesser kudu is a medium-sized antelope with overall greyish-brown colouration, although ewes often more fawn-reddish. There are up to 15 narrow, white, vertical lines on each side, with two distinctive white markings on the throat. Inner upper legs with white and black markings, lower legs orange-brown in colour. Ears large and prominent, but only ram carries the long and widely spiralled horns. This kudu is considered to be the most primitive of all spiral-horned antelope. Some now recognize separate northern and southern species.

 

Distribution

Only in eastern Africa, from south-central Tanzania, Kenya, north-eastern Uganda, to north-eastern Ethiopia, south-eastern South Sudan and Somalia. Although generally held to be an African endemic there are two specimen records from the Arabian Peninsula, one shot at Jabal Halmyn in south Yemen and the second was shot at Nuqrah in western Saudi Arabia. Both were said to have been shot in the 1960s. Reports from these areas indicate that they did occur naturally at very low densities, but today no longer occur. Given the propensity of rich Arabs to collect animals from Africa and elsewhere it is always a possibility that these were escapes from private menageries. It is offered as a trophy only in Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Lesser kudu ram shot in northern Tanzania, close to the Kenyan border

Behaviour

They may be solitary, especially rams, in pairs, or in small groups of related ewes and their young. Fixed home ranges are occupied and most animals are sedentary, but in some areas seasonal movements are undertaken. Home ranges tend to be smallest in the dry season, expanding during the rains. Ram ranges average 2-3 km2 (500-750 acres) in size, whereas those of ewes tend to be somewhat smaller at under 2 km2 (500 acres). There is no territorial behaviour by either sex. Most feeding takes place at night or during the cooler early morning hours. Rams rely mainly on displays during rutting and fighting is said to be rare. Even in areas where they are relatively common they are not easy to observe.

Food

Predominantly a browser that feeds on leaves, growth points, flowers and pods but also takes some grass, especially during the rains. Highly selective of grass species and the growth stage.