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Giant Eland

Giant Eland
Photographer: Tom Junek

Giant Eland
Photographer: Tom Junek

Giant Eland
Photographer: Tom Junek

Giant Eland Range Map (Africa)
Giant Eland Range Map (Africa)
Red/Brown: Western Giant Eland
Olive/Brown: Eastern Giant Eland
Attribution: IUCN, species assessors & spatial data authors

Latin Name Taurotragus derbianus
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location Africa
Colour Reddish Brown
Length 2.2 - 3.45 m (7.2 - 11.3 ft)
Tail 90 cm (35 inches)
Weight 300 - 1,000 kgs (660 - 2,210 lbs)
Life Expectancy Up to 25 Yrs

Main Characteristics

The Giant Eland is the largest species of antelope in the world. They have a body length between 2.2 and 3.45 m (7.2 - 11.3 ft), a tail length of 90 cms (35 inches), and they weigh between 300 and 1,000 kgs (660 - 2,210 lbs). Depending on sex, Giant Elands differ greatly in size, males can grow to almost double the weight of females, and can reach up to 1.8 m (5.9 ft) at the shoulder.

The coat of the Giant Eland is reddish-brown in colour and is usually darker in males. The torso features 8 -12 well defined vertical white stripes. The colour of the male's coat darkens with age, and it has been stated that the darkness of the coat reflects the levels of androgen in the body. Androgen is a male hormone which is highest during rutting.

Giant Eland have large ears that serve as signaling devices and both male and females have tightly spiraled, 'V'-shaped horns. They can be up to 123 cm (4.04 ft) long on males, and 66 cm (2.17 ft) on females. Males have horns that are thicker at the ends, longer, and more divergent than those of females.

Giant Eland can move quickly, running at over 43 mph (70 km/h), and despite their size are exceptional jumpers, easily clearing heights of 1.5 m (4.9 ft).


Giant Eland live in the broad-leafed savanna, woodlands and glades of central and western Africa. They also live in forests as well as on the fringes of deserts. They inhabit places near hilly or rocky landscapes and those with water sources nearby. They are not territorial and have large home ranges.


The Giant Eland is primarily a herbivore. They eat grasses and foliage, as well as other plant parts. In the rainy season, they browse in herds and feed on grasses. They can eat coarse, dry grass and weeds if nothing else is available. Fruits, such as plums, are also on the menu when available. They often use their long horns to break off branches. Giant Elands also require a regular intake of water in their diet.


Mating occurs throughout the year, but peaks in the wet season. Fights occur for dominance, in which the bulls lock horns and try to twist the necks of their opponents and dominant males will mate with several females.

After a gestation period of nine months one calf is usually born at night. The calf will remain with its mother for around four to six months, after which the young eland might join a group of other juveniles.

Female Giant Eland reach sexual maturity at about two years, and males at four to five years of age.


Predators of Giant Eland include lions, spotted hyena and possibly leopards.


There are two subspecies of Giant Eland:

Western Giant Eland
(Taurotragus derbianus derbianus)
They are found in western Africa, particularly Senegal to Mali. They have 15 body stripes, they are smaller in size and rufous in colour.

Eastern Giant Eland
(Taurotragus derbianus gigas)
They are found in central to eastern Africa, particularly Cameroon to Sudan. They have 12 body stripes, they are larger in size and sandy in colour.

Interesting Facts

Giant Eland are also known as:
Lord Derby Eland

Although the Giant Eland is somewhat larger than the common eland, the name 'giant' actually refers to its large horns.

The name 'eland' is Dutch for "elk" or "moose".

Giant Eland can be domesticated, and they have numerous advantages over domestic cattle. Elands can survive with relatively little water, they can eat coarse grasses, and can even manage to ingest some poisonous plants that would kill cattle. They are also immune to some diseases that would afflict cattle. In addition they have high quality hides, produce good meat, and their milk is richer in protein and milk fat than dairy cows.

Similar Animals

Common Eland


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