The name “Blue Wildebeest” derives from a conspicuous silvery blue sheen to his short haired hide, differentiating this species from the plainer black genus member Black Wildebeest. Heavy head with deep necks that contrast with their long, slender legs. Probably the most conspicuous feature of the Blue Wildebeest are the large horns shaped like parentheses, extending outward to the side and then curving up and inward. In the male horn length ranges from 21 to 31 inches, measured along the outside curve of the horn. Female horn width is about half the size of the male. These cow-like horns of both sexes are somewhat broad at the base and are without ridges. Male horns also have a boss-like structure joining the two horns. Male weights average close to 500 lbs (360 – 640), while females average just under 400 lbs (260 to 590).
Wildebeest are herd animals, relying on each others good eyesight, hearing and sense of smell for their mutual benefit and protection. Females and young are found in groups of 10 – 100 animals, while young males form small bachelor groups. Mature males are generally solitary. In areas where grazing conditions and water fluctuates to the extreme, Wildebeest are most active in the mornings and in the evenings. During the hottest part of the day they will seek the shade of tress, where they will stand or lay down. If no shade is available it is not uncommon to find them just standing facing into whatever wind there might be. They may graze on moonlit nights, although normally they will be found lying down. Wildebeest, despite their appearance, are very agile animals. If they are spooked they will instantly take off on a run. They usually don’t run far before stopping to look back to assess the situation and then repeating these activities as needed. They will then remain suspicious, watching their trail for long periods of time. Inquisitive animals, they will stand looking at an intruder while snorting and blowing through their nostrils. They will also run around in circles, prance about waving their tails and pawing at the ground. Bulls are territorial, marking their territories with scent and creating rolling grounds. Only males with a territory may mate. Competition between males consist of displays, loud grunting calls and shoving with the horns. Fighting males commonly drop to their knees to engage. Move gracefully and quietly most of the time, belying the reputation for stampeding in herds; however the stampeding characteristic may sometimes be observed. Favor sandy wallows and avoid dense cover and tall growth.
Food Habits Green grass is a staple of the wildebeest diet. Exclusively short grass grazers, though they are not particular as to the type of these grasses. The wildebeest’s mouth is shaped in such a way that it is able to harvest short green grass that is hard for other animals to feed on. Keep a uniform diet of fresh grass not more than 4 inches high year round. Eat succulents and wild melons. Only a small trace of browse and forbs.
Rut for 3 weeks sometime in September to October but some breeding also at other times. Births are highly coordinated and peak during 3 week period from April to May, with most of the rest during the following 5 weeks. Females have a gestation of 8.5 months when they give birth to 1 calf (rarely 2). Females give birth in the herd and can also delay birth during if range conditions are poor. Males and females mature sexually at around 28 months; females as young as 16 months when in particularly good condition.
Life Span Can live in excess of 20 years.
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