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Blue Wildebeest | Etosha National Park | Namibian Animals & Wildlife

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Blue wildebeest of Namibia

The Blue Wildebeest of Etosha National Park

There are two kinds of wildebeest in Namibia, the blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) and the black wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou), although the latter is not endemic to western Africa.

The two species are alike in many of their habits and have been known to interbreed where they occur together. For this reason, most of Namibia’s 7 000 black wildebeest are found in private nature reserves, while their larger cousins roam in the country’s national parks like Etosha.

Differences in Appearances

Despite their similarities, the two animals are easily distinguished from one another.

Black wildebeest are a dark chocolatey color with an upright mane of white hair tipped in black. They have a fringe of dark hair between their forelegs which extends under the belly. The tail is white and the horns curve upwards and forwards.

Blue wildebeest are greyer with a black mane which flops on the neck, darker streaks on the shoulders and a pale beard under the chin and neck. Their horns curve outwards and upwards.

Neither species is presently under threat and they are a common sight on grasslands wherever they occur. Wildebeest are a shade loving species, preferring to rest up under the trees during the heat of the day. They usually confine their feeding habits to morning and late afternoon.

Survival in the Wild

In Etosha National Park, you can see blue wildebeest in great numbers anywhere where there is grazing and water. Wildebeest consume around a quarter of their body weight in grass every day and prefer to drink daily.

It is these food requirements that drive them to risk their lives crossing the watery death traps of the Serengeti every year during Earth’s largest animal migration. In other places, their movement is restricted by fences and the encroachment of human settlements.

Although they mass together in their thousands during the migration, most wildebeest herds consist of 20 to 40 individuals. These are made up of a male leader and his harem of females with their young.

Bachelor bulls gather in loose herds of their own.

Both these types of herds are very often found in the company of zebras. They have a symbiotic relationship with these herbivores, eating the taller parts of the grasses, leaving the shorter stalks which the zebras prefer behind. This relationship is also based on the theory that more is always better when it comes to anticipating and surviving attacks from predators. Both zebra and wildebeest are highly palatable to lions.

Breeding Habits

During the breeding season, the male wildebeest will defend his territory and his herd against these young usurpers with surprising vigor. He mates with all his females, resulting in the arrival of one or sometimes two calves per female after an 8 to 9-month gestation period. All the calves are born within a few weeks of each other during the rainy season.

Famously, the calves are up and running within minutes of their birth. With ravenous hyenas, eager to eat them, they need to have their wits about them from the outset and calf mortality can be as high as 50%. The calves are weaned from 6 months old and stay with their mother until she produces her next offspring.

See Namibia’s Wildlife

You will find out more about these iconic African animals while visiting Namibia’s protected wildlife areas. Get in touch to book your accommodation in Windhoek and start planning your Namibian safari today.

Blue wildebeest of Namibia

The Main Event – The Animals Of Etosha National Park

This entry was posted in Etosha National Park and tagged , , , , , on .

Etosha is the game capital of Africa, perfect for nature lovers and photographers. Hundreds of species may be found here, including 114 mammals of which several species are endangered or rare.

Of these, the black rhino is the most well-known. Etosha has had overwhelming success in preserving this animal and, although figures are not disclosed, the park is home to a healthy population of Black Rhino. These elusive creatures are not often seen in the wild, but Etosha is one of the best places in the world to come across them and they are most often spotted at the floodlit waterholes.

The white rhino is also a nocturnal drinker, usually spotted after-hours at the waterholes. The conservation of the white rhino has been another Etosha success story, particularly since they were extinct in the park at the turn of the century. A few specimens were reintroduced from the Waterberg and one from Germany after 1995 and their numbers have increased satisfactorily since then.

Elephants too, are thriving in Etosha and huge breeding herds of about 50 animals are a common sighting. About 2 500 elephant are resident in Etosha. The rare black-faced impala is now abundant in Etosha, where it had ceased to exist during the 1970s. This pretty little antelope shares a habitat with the rare Hartmann’s zebra in the western area of the park.

In addition, visitors to Etosha can look forward to sightings of lion, springbok, eland, honey badger, African wildcat, hyenas, porcupines, giraffe, red hartebeest, sable antelope, gemsbok, leopard and hundreds of Burchell’s zebra. There are no hippos, crocodile, buffalo or monkeys in the Etosha National Park.

The dry season is the best time to spot animals in Etosha, as they congregate close to sources of water during this time and it is easier to predict their movements.

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