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The Greater Kudu (Modern Animal)

The Greater Kudu, a species of antelopes similar to the Springbok, scientifically known as the Tragelaphus Strepsiceros. They are known to be the 2nd largest type of antelopes in the world. Male Greater Kudus whole body length is around 74-98inches, Torso Length 14.5-19inches, height length 39-70 inches and they weigh exceedingly heavy from 420-700lbs. There are mainly two types of Kudus: The Greater Kudu and The Lesser Kudu. They are hunted by humans for their amazing horns, and they were used as musical instruments, honey containers and it was a Jewish ritual horn. Their current conversation status is least concern

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Tragelaphus
Species: Tragelaphus strepsiceros

Habitat/Diet


Kudus are only found in Africa, places such as southern Chad, northern Central African Republic, western and eastern Sudan, northeast Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia, Namibia, Angola, and southeast Congo mainly in however they are mainly in Southern Africa where the climate is not too hot but not too cold, during summer temperatures ranges from 25-30 degrees Celsius, while in Winter temperature ranges from 10-20 degrees Celsius. They prefer to live in woodlands and bush lands, dry riverbeds, and rocky hillsides which provide good cover for their shelter they also tend to live near areas with a water supply. However the Greater Kudu are browsers meaning they could travel for long distances and a long period of time without drinking water. Therefore they could survive in such drier areas in Africa such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia Malewi etc. The Kudu tends to avoid open
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Fig1,2 Parts of South Africa where The Greater Kudu are Inhabitants.
arid spaces since they could be easily shot down by Hunters and they could be taken down by their predators such as wild dogs, hyenas, eagles and pythons, etc therefore the greater Kudu tends to stick to woodland areas and grasslands where there is plenty of cover making them more safe. The Greater Kudu shares lands with animals such as with .African Elephants,Giraffes, hippopotamus’, zebras, jackals, foxes etc. Theirreproductive areas are grasslands to avoid any predators. This reproductive period is mainly from January to March, the end of the rainy season since grass will be tall during this period however it can vary depending on region and climate. As you can see in Fig 1,2 you will see the main areas where they would appear, and the amount of Greater Kudu inhabitants in that certain area of Africa. The GreaterKudus are herbivores, vegetarian so therefore it does not have to hunt for meat, it only consumes fruits (oranges, watermelons etc), leaves, grass, shoots and also flowers.


Click the link for a much more detailed map

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Fig 3 The Greater Kudu prefers grasslands to be their habitat



Structural Adaptations of the Greater Kudu

1. The sharp senses of the Greater Kudu help them adapt to their surrounding environment efficiently, such adaptations are their wide enlarged ears which gives them very powerful hearing senses. Their ears benefits the Greater Kudu since they aren’t long distance sprinters because of its low stamina, therefore it makes the Kudu more aware of predators near the area giving them a head start to flee and to hide, therefore making it harder for predators to approach and hunt the Greater Kudu.


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Environmental Pressure: It has been assumed that they have adapted this way, because in the past their ancestors lacked the needed hearing ability in order to survive making it easier for predators to attack them. Leading their species to decline in numbers, therefore their ears grew throughout the years, improving their hearing senses.





2.The skin colour of the Greater Kudu helps them camouflage to their dry woodland environment very well. Their coating colour tends to be a mixture of brown blue and grey or a reddish grey colour. They also possess stripes located on their torso ranging from 4-12 stripes, their stripes are similar to a tiger's stripe but much thinner, the advantage of this is since most of it’s predators such as, wild dogs and hyenas are color blind, it appear to them as black and white shades, looking like twigs or tiny trees and their color is the same as their living environment, making it hard for hunters to spot. This benefits the Greater Kudus, since it is easier for them to hide from predators or hunters by blending in their surrounding environment.

Environmental Pressure: In my opinion as the climate changes throughout the years, the texture and the color of grass, trees and bushes will also have been altered. In order for them to survive their colour coating had to be similar to it’s surrounding minimizing it’s chances of being spotted, causing it to adapt this way.
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Behavioral Adaptations of The Greater Kudu

1. The Greater Kudu is known for one of its amazing behavioral adaptation which is its long spiral shaped horns, which are usually 120 cm long (42 inches). Their fascinating horns aren’t used for hunting other animals since the Greater Kudu is a vegetarian, but it is for proving dominance over another Male Greater Kudu impress other Kudu’s of the opposite sex or to win over food .This is determined by sparring, wrestling against each other (normally kudus which are the same size), by interlocking their horns together, the winner is decided when one of the Kudu backs out and declares defeat. There are cases when two kudus were unable to separate their horns leading to death however this is rarely seen. Occasionally female kudus do grow horns but it is unlikely, the female kudu fends off unwanted attention of the male kudus not by their horns but by biting it. By being the most dominant it will most likely have mating rights, passing on their genes to the next generation.


Environmental Pressure: Throughout the years they formed herds, in my opinion its neighbour animals had done the same, however there was a leader among them. They copied their ways and thought there must be a leader, which resulted them to spar with their horns in order to prove their dominance.



2. The Greater Kudu of both sex has distinct grouping habits, male kudus will usually form temporary bachelor groups ranging from 2-10 however there has been cases of a group of 30 male kudus, older kudus tends to be more solitary, whereas the female kudus consists of 10-15 a group, however male and female kudus won’t have any involvement between one another, the only relationship is during their mating season. Newly born calves lies on tall grasses for up to a month away from herds, and is nursed by its mother several times a day usually for up to a month, once they join the herd new calves will create their own group “The nursery group”, the calves will have no relationship with other adult kudu’s but only their mother. These groups are not territorial, but the group’s home ranges from 1.5 to 4.5 square miles.

Environmental Pressure: The Greater Kudus were not long distance runners because of it’s lack of stamina, making them easy targets for predators. By forming groups the chances of one Greater Kudu killed will be lowered since there might be 12 of them and there will be more eyes and ears to spot predators, also by forming groups it is easier to scavenge for food, this is why it adapted this way.




3.Both gender of the Greater Kudu owns a bushy tail, their tails aren’t there just for show, they are used as alarm systems. As Greater Kudus females and males form their own groups they tend to stick together, but once they are alarmed and chased by predators they will lift up that bushy tail and expose the color white underneath, alerting other group members to hide, since Greater Kudus are color blind they could only seen in shades of black and whibehave_adapt_modern_3.pngte, therefore the white stands out in their eyes making it easier to see if their fellow companions are in danger.

Environmental Pressure: As The Greater Kudus are frequently attacked by predators, they somehow managed to for a signal to let their companions be aware of it’s predators around the area, therefore it does this by lifting its tail up, and possibly as the underside of the tail is not exposed to the sun as often it formed a while colour.


Greater Kudu Diagrams


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Diagram 1 Structural and Behavioral adaptations

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Diagram 2 Structural and Behavioral adaptations



Bibliography

Bibliography

HUNTING, U. (2006, N/A N/A). UITSPAN HUNTING. Retrieved 6 21, 2011, from The Greater Kuu: http://www.kalahari-trophy-hunting.com/kudu.html

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. (2009, N/A N/A). Retrieved June 22, 2011, from Bio Facts Greater Kudu: http://www.jacksonvillezoo.org/animals/mammals/greater_kudu/

The ICUN Red List of Endangered Species. (2008, N/A N/A). Retrieved June 17, 2011, from Red List: http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/22054/0

Zookeeper's Journal. (2010, January 10). Retrieved June 22, 2011, from The Greater Kudu: http://zookeepersjournal.com/wiki/index.php?title=Greater_Kudu