Scientific Name: Tragelaphus derbianus gigas
IUCN Status: Least Concern
Quick Fact: While the eastern giant eland is listed as a specie of least concern, the western giant eland is critically endangered with fewer than 200 remaining in the wild (mostly in Senegal)
Learn More: visit Ultimate Ungulate to learn more about the world’s largest antelope
The largest species of antelope, the giant eland compares in size to cattle, weighing over 1,500 pounds and standing nearly six feet at the shoulder. The eastern giant eland may be found in large herds of 100 or more animals, living in the bush savannahs of central Africa. Despite their size they are incredibly athletic and can run and jump effortlessly, although they are generally docile. Their fine hair coats and faint stripes help camouflage them as they move through the bush and browse on the leaves and branches of their favorite plants.
Because of its seasonal movements and often thick bush habitat, the giant eland is difficult to study and little is known of the wild population. White Oak is one of a handful of zoos in the world to work with the species, and we have dedicated significant effort in support of the breeding program for them. We
have also developed specific research projects to learn more about the giant eland’s husbandry and health. Several giant eland born at White Oak have been sent to international zoo partners to initiate breeding programs in South Africa and Costa Rica.
The eastern giant eland is not considered endangered in the wild and, although populations are declining the species is still hunted for meat and trophies throughout their range. A close relative, the western giant eland or Lord Derby’s eland, is critically endangered due to over hunting, and to competition and habitat loss to domestic livestock. White Oak has provided funding to study the wild population of the giant eland in Cameroon, including radio tracking, nutrition, and parasite studies. We have also supported conservation efforts for the Lord Derby’s eland in Senegal, one of Africa’s most endangered species of antelope.