Eland has great potential
ELAND HAS GREAT POTENTIAL
"In South Africa a record price of over R1 million was recently achieved for a Livingstone eland bull, while the top price for a Livingstone cow in calf was R650,00000.” says Jannie Fourie of AGRISELL.
When the Dutch settlers came to the Cape Province they named the largest wild ruminant herbivore they met, ‘eland’ derived from the Dutch word for a moose. The Cape eland (T.o. oryx) is found in the South- and South-West Africa.
Both sexes have spiralled horns, but horns of males are shorter, thicker and have tighter, more pronounced spirals, while horns of females are longer and thinner. Males tend to turn blue-grey as they age, whereas young eland are usually reddish brown with clear stripes and markings. Stripes can faint and become completely absent on the Southern Cape eland with age.
According to Fourie, “The eland become popular in Southern Africa as a result of its better adaption to harsh environment conditions and resistance to heavy tick infestations”.
In terms of their diet, eland are primarily browsers, feeding mainly on foliage of shrubs and trees as well as a varied diet of flowers, seeds tubers and succulent fruits. During the rainy season, they may switch to grazing, taking in more than 50% of their diet in the form of newly sprouted grass. Eland are crepuscular and thus feed during early morning and evening. Although eland drink water when it is plentiful, they obtain most of their water from their diet and can go for long periods without drinking. Eland is capable of jumping 2.4 metre from a standing start.
Eland is social and can occur in large herds of hundreds of animals. Unlike many antelope, eland lack territorial behaviour and herds contain interchangeable members.
Fourie explain that “because it has a very fluid herd structure, introductions into herds do not usually create problems because they merge easily and as a result an eland herd could be introduced to a Western Cape farm”.
Gestation is 9 months and birth occurs at the end of the dry season. Cows usually give birth annually to a single calf that weighs about 33 kg and is weaned at 4 to 6 months. Eland can live up to 18 years.
Hunters always misjudge them with the weight and body mass averages between 500 – 600 kg for males and 340 – 445 kg for females. But the large so called blue-greys males can weigh up to 942 kg, which is an enormous volume of meat to bring home after a successful hunt.
The Cape Floral Kingdom, including fynbos and renosterveld, are predominantly soar and not easy palatable and appetising.
“Although eland is the largest African antelope, it strives on the plants of the natural habitat of the Western Cape, producing large volumes of quality meat for the consumer”, Fourie continues “and therefor, if the necessary infrastructure to keep them in, is in place, eland has to be part of your game selection on your game farm.”