The common eland (Taurotragus oryx), also known as the southern eland or eland antelope, is a savannah and plains antelope found in East and Southern Africa. It is a species of the family Bovidae and genus Taurotragus. It was first described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1766. It is the second largest antelope in the world, being slightly smaller on average than the giant eland. It uses loud barks, visual and postural movements and the flehmen response to communicate and warn others of danger. The common eland provides leather and rich, nutritious milk, and has been domesticated in many areas. The common eland is the slowest antelope, with a peak speed of 40 kilometres (25 mi) per hour that tires them quickly.
Common elands are spiral-horned antelopes. Their coat differs geographically with elands in North Africa having distinctive markings (torso stripes, markings on legs, dark garters and a spinal crest) that are absent in the south. The coat is smooth except for a rough mane. Females have a tan coat, while the coats of males are darker, with a bluish-grey tinge. Bulls may also have a series of vertical white stripes on their sides (mainly in parts of the Karoo in South Africa). As males age, their coat becomes more grey. Males also have dense fur on their foreheads and a large dewlap on their throats.
Both sexes have horns with a steady spiral ridge (resembling that of the bushbuck). The horns are visible as small buds in newborns and grow rapidly during the first seven months. The horns of males are thicker and shorter than those of females (males’ horns are 43–66 centimetres (17–26 in) long and females’ are 51–69 centimetres (20–27 in) long), and have a tighter spiral. Males use their horns during rutting season to wrestle and butt heads with rivals, while females use their horns to protect their young from predators.
Mainly an herbivore, its diet is primarily grasses and leaves.
Common elands form herds of up to 500 animals, but are not territorial. The common eland prefers habitats with a wide variety of flowering plants such as savannah, woodlands, and open and montane grasslands; it avoids dense forests.
It is native to Botswana, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe but is no longer present in Burundi and Angola. The common eland’s population is decreasing but it is classified as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).