Sunset on False BaySunset on False BaySunset on False Bay

10 Things You Didn't Know About Gnus

February 01, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Black Wildebeest herdBlack Wildebeest herdA herd of Black Wildebeest crossing the savannah in the eastern Cape, South Africa 1 : There are 2 types of Gnu, or Wildebeest. The Black (Connochaetes gnou) and the Blue (Connochaetes taurinus). A Black Wildebeest will generally weigh between 100-180kgs, and a Blue Wildebeest 180-250kgs.

Blue WildebeestBlue WildebeestA side profile portrait of a Blue Wildebeest in Southern African savanna 2 : Gnus are a strange combination of parts, almost as if a child has been playing Mr PotatoHead with animal bits. W.Cornwallis Harris penned the perfect description of a Gnu in 1840 - “A more whimsical compound than the Gnoo could scarcely have been thrown together, or a monster imagined of more fantastical and anomalous exterior”.

Two Black WildebeestTwo Black WildebeestA pair of Black Wildebeest greet each other in the Southern African savannah 3 : Nowadays a herd is often called an "implausibility of Gnus", a phrase coined by James Lipton in his 1968 book "An Exultation Of Larks".

Blue Wildebeest groupBlue Wildebeest groupA family group of Blue Wildebeest standing in early morning light, South Africa 4 : Cows of both kinds reach sexual maturity at 16 months.

5 : Newborns are very vulnerable so as a protective measure most are born en masse within about 3 weeks to create a glut for predators and enable more to survive.

6 : Although very wobbly when born, a newborn calf is on it's feet within minutes and can keep up with it's mother and the herd within 48 hours.

7 : If conditions are right, a female Wildebeest will give birth to one calf every year throughout her life.

8 : The 6 minute Wildebeest stampede scene in the movie "The Lion King" took 3 years to make !

9 : Although only an average of 1.2m at the shoulder (not much bigger than a Shetland Pony), Black Wildebeest are very dangerous and have been known to attack and kill people.

Black WildebeestBlack WildebeestBlack Wildebeest standing in savanna in Southern Africa 10 : The Coat Of Arms for the South African province of Natal featured Black Wildebeest, and it has been incorporated in the combined Coat Of Arms since the 1994 unification of Natal and KwaZulu into the province of KwaZulu-Natal.


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