The Kudu is one of the most magnificent trophy animals. Kudu males have long, spiral horns. The greater kudu’s horns are spectacular and can grow as long as 183 cm, making 2 ½ graceful twists. These beautifully shaped horns have long been prized in Africa for use as musical instruments, honey containers and symbolic ritual objects. Female greater kudus are noticeably smaller than the males and may occasionally have a small pair of horns.
By contrast, lesser kudus are even smaller, about 107 cm at the shoulder; males weigh around 100 kgs while females generally weigh about 23 kgs less. Lesser kudus have smaller horns than the greater kudus and conspicuous white patches on the upper and lower parts of the neck. Although both species are bluish-grey, greyish-brown or rust colour, the lesser has five to six more lateral white stripes, for a total of 11 to 15. Both species have a crest of long hair along the spine, and greater kudus also have a fringe under the chin.
Kudus live in the drier areas of eastern and southern Africa, wherever there is adequate low- and medium-level woody growth to provide food and shelter. They are browsers and eat leaves and shoots from a variety of plants. In dry seasons, they eat wild watermelons and other fruit for the liquid they provide.
The lesser kudu is less dependent on water sources than the greater kudu. Where farming has developed near their habitat, kudus will sometimes make nocturnal visits to plantations and vegetable plots. As they can make spectacular leaps of up to 6 feet, it takes a high fence to keep them out.
Females and their offspring form small groups of six to ten. The males usually only join them during mating season. This can take place during the whole year. The pregnant female departs from her group to give birth, leaving the newborn lying out for 4 or 5 weeks, one of the longest periods of all the antelopes. The calf then begins to accompany its mother for short periods of time and by 3 or 4 months is with her constantly. Soon after, the mother and calf rejoin the female’s group. Calves grow rapidly and at 6 months are fairly independent of their mothers.