Black Wildebeest - Appearance
Black Wildebeest have a dark brown to black body, an erect mane and a long whitish tail. Both sexes have heavy, forward curving horns. Bulls measure 1.2 metres at the shoulder and weigh 161 Kg. Cows measure 1.16 metres at the shoulder and weigh 130 Kg. The horns of calves are initially straight, and start to grow the characteristic curvature at approximately nine months of age.
They are primarily a grazer, in order of preference selecting for predominantly grass, and occasionally karroid shrubs and herbs.
Socially, the Black Wildebeest is found in three types of herds namely those consisting of territorial bulls competing to attract receptive cows, female herds, and lastly bachelor herds. Dominant bulls are spaced across a grid of individual territories, each of which is actively defended. Generally older bulls are isolated from the social structure. This species shows strong attachment to particular areas, which are selected for all round visibility to enhance safety.
Their preferred habitat is open grassveld, and it actively avoids areas with tall grass and dense vegetation.
Where they are found
Black Wildebeest are endemic to South Africa. Historically the Black Wildebeest occupied the central open grassland plains of the country, from the Northern Cape, the Free State, the southern highveld regions of the former Transvaal, western Lesotho, western Swaziland and the grassland areas below the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal. Recently introduced to other parts of the country and neighbouring countries. With population estimates of about 12 00 it is not regarded as threatened by extinction.
Blue Wildebeest - Appearance
The dark silver-grey body is marked with dark vertical bands on the front quarters. Blue wildebeest are characterised by a long black mane and a beard of hair hanging from the throat and neck. Both sexes grow short curved horns. In adult bulls the horns are heavily bossed. Bulls weigh 250 kg and measures 1.5 m at the shoulders. Cows are slightly smaller, measuring 1.4 m at the shoulder and with a mass of 180 kg.
Blue Wildebeest are seasonal breeders. Births of single calves per cow occur during summer after a gestation period of nine months. Calves can run with the herd within minutes after birth.
Seasonal migration was an optimised survival strategy which allowed the effective use of resources over larger areas and which minimised over-utilisation, both during wet and dry seasons. This is a gregarious herbivore, occurring in herds ranging from ten to a few thousand individuals. Bulls maintain territories when the herd is sedentary.
Where they are found
Distribution is concentrated to the north-eastern regions of South Africa. Not regarded as endangered, but mostly found in conservation areas. Also widely distributed in countries north of South Africa. Population numbers are drastically reduced due to fencing, which restricts traditional and instinctive migration.