© Roger de la Harpe
Blue wildebeest herd with calf.

The 2 species of Wildebeest found in Africa are the Blue Wildebeest and the Black Wildebeest.

The most striking differences between the black and blue wildebeest are the shape of their horns and the color of their coats. The blue wildebeest is the bigger than the black wildebeest.

Blue wildebeest tend to be a dark grey color with stripes, but may have a bluish sheen. The black wildebeest has a cream-coloured tail (which is the easiest way to distinguish it from the blue wildebeest) and brown-coloured hair, with a mane that ranges in color from cream to black.

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.

©Nigel Dennis
Blue wildebeest with calf.


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.
©Shem Compion

Where Wildebeest 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, especially in East Africa which is famous for its annual Great Migration of wildebeest.

In South Africa, population numbers are drastically reduced due to fencing, which restricts traditional and instinctive migration.

Black Wildebeest

Read more on the Black Wildebeest.

Kruger National Park - South African Safari