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Wildebeest FACT FILE

Wildebeest FACT FILE

Wildebeest in Hwange National Park
Wildebeest in Hwange National Park
Tom Varley, Wild Visions Photographic Gallery

By Julia Jackson


Cookson’s wildebeest

(a subspecies of the blue wildebeest)

Latin name: Connochaetes taurinus cooksoni

Range: only found in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia

Blue wildebeest

Latin name: Connochaetes taurinus

Other names: the common wildebeest, white-bearded wildebeest or brindled gnu

Range:  Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland,  Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is extinct in Malawi, but has been successfully reintroduced in Namibia.

Size and notable features: Between 170–240cm in head-and-body length. The average height of the species is 115–145 cm.  While males weigh up to 290kg, females seldom exceed 260kg. A characteristic feature is the long, black tail.

Lifespan:  20 years in the wild and 21 years in captivity.

Black wildebeest

Latin name: Connochaetes gnou

Other name:  white-tailed gnu

Range:  They were almost completely exterminated in the 19th century but the species has since been reintroduced widely from captive specimens, both in private areas and game reserves throughout most of Lesotho, Swaziland and  South Africa. It has also been introduced outside its natural range in parts of Namibia and Kenya.

Size and notable features: 170–220cm in head-and-body length and the average weight is 110–180kg. Males stand up to 111–121cm at the shoulder, while the height of the females is around 106–116cm. This wildebeest is characterised by its white, long, horse-like tail and its dark brown to black coat and long, dark-coloured hair between its forelegs and under its belly.

Lifespan:  Approximately 20 years.