kudu [key], either of two oshort-haired African antelopes of genus Tragelaphus. The greater kudu, T. strepsiceros, has a reddish brown coat with thin vertical white stripes on its sides. It is among the largest of the antelopes; males may reach a shoulder height of 5 ft (150 cm) and a weight of 500 lb (230 kg). The male has widely spread spiral horns with up to three full twists, sometimes exceeding 5 ft in length; it has a long throat fringe and a white chevron on the muzzle. Females are smaller and hornless, without a beard or nose markings. The greater kudu inhabits hilly brush country of E and S Africa, ranging to altitudes above the treeline. Members of this species are always found near water and are excellent swimmers. Kudus are primarily browsers, feeding on leaves and young shoots, but they may graze as well. Females and their young travel in small bands; males are solitary and join the band only during the mating season. The lesser kudu, T. imberbis, reaches a shoulder height of about 3 ft (90 cm) and has more numerous stripes and no throat fringe; it inhabits desert and semidesert areas of E Africa. Kudus are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Bovidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology