Kudu-An animal with massive curly horns

Massive curly horns of a kudu.

Oh, how beautifully the early morning light illuminates the male kudus!

He is a handsome ram of rich gray color.

His body is banded with 13 or 14 narrow white vertical stripes.

A conspicuous white patch adorns his throat, and a white bar his lower neck.

The white chevron between his velvety eyes and the white area around his mouth give character to his dark face.

A cool morning breeze gently ripples the short white mane running down his neck, shoulders, and back.

His head is crowned with two triple-twisted horns that gracefully spiral upward and outward.

Infancy and Territoriality

Picture of a kudu in it's territory.

When a baby kudu is born, its mother will immediately lick it clean so that it will have no scent by which predators may track it.

Then, when the mother goes off to feed, the infant antelope will obediently stay put, lying quietly where its mother has placed it.

The mother will regularly give her baby a “licking” bath to keep it deodorized and thus protected from predators.

But on about the tenth day, when her baby begins nibbling plants, it develops body odor.

Since its specialized protection from detection is then lost, from that time on, it accompanies its mother everywhere.

A conspicuous kudu characteristic is that of establishing territory boundaries.

This is the choosing and defending of a particular patch of ground by the males of the species.

In claiming an area, the male marks the boundary by depositing its body excretions on grass and bushes.

Then he defends his area by chasing out any male intruder that crosses these scented territorial boundaries.

What about female intruders?

Why, they are not intruders!

They are guests who are welcome to stay. In fact, they may be pressured into doing so!

Evidence of Intelligence

A kudu foraging for food.

The instinctive behavior of marking off territorial boundaries keeps herds well dispersed and protects against overgrazing.

Thus, browsing kudu are assured of an uninterrupted supply of the leafy bushes they relish.

But what happens when a drought occurs?

Conservationist Daphne Sheldrick explains:

When times are hard, however, and food and water scarce, Nature introduces a radical measure which is the exact opposite of territoriality . . . , and that is Migration. Territoriality inclines toward separation and a readiness to fight and mate; migration inhibits both these basic instincts as the need for closer cohesion increases. Survival becomes the paramount concern of all, and so males and females come together . . . in peaceful mixed association. And then, one day, as though by Divine Command, they will vacate an area en masse and a general exodus takes place.”
Yes, off they go, seeking new feeding grounds where foliage is abundant!

This is how the peaceful kudu survives in the wilds of Africa.

Its protection is the instinctive ability to stand motionless and blend in with its surroundings.

No wonder the kudu is so elusive!

Its life depends on it.