Taurotragus – Elands

This genus is home to the giant eland – the largest antilope

Elands are the largest antelope species found primarily in the savannas, grasslands, and open forests of southern Africa. The genus name Taurotragus itself evokes images of strength and agility, with “Taurus” meaning “bull” or “bullock,” and “Tragos” translating to “male goat” in Greek, an apt descriptor for these formidable yet graceful animals.

Adapted to a variety of habitats across the African continent, from the foothills of the great southern African plateau to the eastern and central regions, elands exhibit remarkable versatility. This adaptability extends to their dietary habits as well; as herbivores, they feed on a broad spectrum of plant materials, including grasses, leaves, and branches, which they can access thanks to their size and strength.

Despite their imposing stature, elands are exceptionally agile and are known for their ability to leap significant heights from a standstill, a trait that serves them well when evading predators or navigating their rugged landscapes. Adult males can weigh up to 1,000 kilograms (about 2,200 pounds), with females being slightly smaller. Yet, both genders can effortlessly clear obstacles, demonstrating an elegance that belies their size.

Elands have also been the focus of domestication efforts, particularly in South Africa and Russia, due to their resilience and utility. They are prized for their meat, which is lean and nutritious, and their milk, which is remarkably rich in fat and proteins. In fact, a female eland can produce up to 7 liters of milk per day, surpassing the milk yield of dairy cows in some instances. This milk’s high nutritional value, combined with the eland’s adaptability to harsh environments, makes them an attractive option for livestock farming in areas where conventional dairy farming faces challenges.