eland (ēˈlənd) [key], large, spiral-horned African antelope, genus Taurotragus, found in brush country or open forest at the edge of grasslands. Elands live in small herds and are primarily browsers rather than grazers. The two species of eland are the largest of all living antelopes. The common eland, Taurotragus oryx, of S and E Africa, stands almost 6 ft (1.8 m) high at the shoulder and may weight up to 2,000 lb (910 kg). Its oxlike body is light brown, with a few narrow white stripes running across the back and down the sides. It has a hump between the shoulders, a short, erect, black mane, and a long tail with a short, black tuft. Both sexes have spiral horns about 2 ft (60 cm) long, stretching straight back from the head. The common eland is easily tamed, and some attempts have been made at domestication. The giant eland, T. derbianus, of W and central Africa, is slightly larger than the common eland and has horns up to 4 ft (1.2 m) long. Its numbers have been greatly reduced by hunting for meat and hides and by rinderpest, a now-eradicated cattle disease to which elands were particularly susceptible. By 1968 the giant eland was nearly extinct in W Africa. Elands are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Bovidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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