A sociable animal, the greater kudu occurs in groups of up to 25 females and their offspring of both sexes. The members of the group mingle and separate frequently (2). The larger male greater kudus roam more widely and form loose bachelor groups, generally only joining female herds during the mating season, which extends through April and May in South Africa (3).
During the breeding season, the necks of the mature males swell to display their bulging muscles, and aggression between males is common. When rival males meet, one stands with its mane erect in a posture that best exaggerates the male’s size, while the other circles around. These displays can sometimes develop into fights, with one male locking its strong, spiral horns around the body of its opponent. Occasionally, the horns of the two males may become intertwined and, unable to free themselves from this position, both competitors may die (3).
The greater kudu is always alert to predators (5), such as lions and spotted hyenas (3), and will flee rapidly from any potential danger. Despite its bulky size, the greater kudu is remarkably agile and is surprisingly adept at jumping, being easily capable of clearing a two-metre fence (5).
The calves of the greater kudu are born in January and February, after a nine month gestation period. For the first three to four weeks of life, the calf lies hidden in vegetation, with the female visiting to nurse it (3) (4). Female calves remain with the mother’s herd, whereas males disperse after two years of age (3).
The greater kudu feeds on a range of foliage, herbs, vines, fruits, flowers and grass, the composition of its diet varying depending on the season (2). The long legs and neck of the kudu enable it to reach food at great heights, which are exceeded only by the giraffe (2).