Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Wildebeest

Did you know that the wildebeest and the gnu are the same animal? I learned tonight that the gnu was given the Afrikaans name, wildebeest, because it has a menacing appearance. It actually is a member of the antelope family.  

Both male and female grow horns which are sharp and curved. They can weigh up to 600 pounds and can reach a height of 4.5 ft. at the shoulders with a body length of about 8 ft. With large shaggy heads, strong upper body and thin legs, they look like they are made up of several different animals. The wildebeest can live up to 20 years.  

They move in herds on the grassy plains and open woodlands in eastern, central and southern Africa. Sometimes they graze with zebras in mixed herds. Every year they travel around 1,000 miles as they migrate following the rain in order to have the best grass. Some wildebeests do not migrate but are nomadic and some have a small home range. Those that do migrate cover about 30 miles a day.

Newborn calves weigh about 45 pounds and are able to stand within minutes of birth. In just a few days they are ready to travel with the herd staying close to the mothers. Because they travel in large herds, they are better able to protect themselves from attack by predators like the crocodile, lion, cheetah and others.

You can find more information at Wikipedia, National Geographic and a-z animals.

This is Day 23 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

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