The lesser kudu is a forest antelope from East Africa. The qualifier "lesser" is used to distinguish this kudu from the greater kudu, a close relative that grows to larger sizes.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Artiodactyla
Family - Bovidae
Subfamily - Bovinae
Genus - Tragelaphus (formerly Ammelaphus)
Common Names – Lesser Kudu, Northern Lesser Kudu (T. imberbis), Southern Lesser Kudu (T. australis)
The lesser kudu is a spiral horned antelope, with males growing horns that may reach lengths of up to three feet. Females do not grow horns. Lesser kudus are usually a medium brown in color, with thin white vertical stripes along their sides. There are two white patches on the undersides of the neck. They can grow to lengths of just under five feet long.
Lesser kudu breed all year long, with no fixed season for mating. Females mature in just over a year, while males mature in four to five years. Females gestate for 240 days, at which point they give birth to a single calf. The calf is usually hidden after birth, away from the mother, using camouflage to conceal it from predators.
Lesser kudu usually remain solitary, or travel in pairs or small groups of a single family. They eat leaves, grass and fruit, and get most of their water from plants so they don't drink often. Lesser kudus spend their days resting in shade or feeding, using their stripes to camouflage themselves in their forest habitat. They are thinner than most other related antelopes, and can travel through dense foliage quite easily.
The lesser kudu's excellent camouflage ability and general wariness keeps it from being easily hunted, and human interactions with lesser kudu are infrequent.
The lesser kudu was formerly divided into two subspecies, though some researchers regard them as separate species entirely. They are the northern and southern lesser kudu. The northern variety is restricted to Ethiopia and Somalia, while the southern can be found in those countries, as well as Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Sudan.
The lesser kudu is listed as "Near Threatened". Habitat loss and disease are the leading threats facing this species. There are currently thought to be just over 100,000 lesser kudus. Though their numbers is declining, they are helped by the fact that much of their current population resides in protected areas.
Princeton Field Guides: Bovids of the World, Castello, 2016.