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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet: Discover the ungulates of the world!

Taxonomy | Description | Reproduction | Ecology | Behavior | Distribution | Conservation | Remarks | Literature


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Taurotragus derbianus [Gray, 1847].
Citation: Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., [ser. 1], 20:286.
Type locality: Gambia.

The taxonomic record (above) is taken from Wilson and Reeder (1993).

 cameroonensis (derbianus) colini (derbianus) congolanus (derbianus) gigas (derbianus)

Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs

General Characteristics

scientific measurements.

Reported measurements for giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus)

Source                   Adult Weight   Head & Body Length    Shoulder Height     Tail Length 

Happold, 1973

680 kg


150-175 cm


Kingdon, 1997

450-907 kg est
300-500 kg est

240-320 cm est
210 - 240 est

150-176 cm est
140-160 cm est

55-78 cm

Pelage rufous to rufous grey with 12-14 vertical white stripes on each side of the body (Happold, 1987)

Small crest of black hairs on mid-dorsal line from back of head to middle of back (Happold, 1987)

Head is large with white lips, large, broad, rounded ears, and a bright rufous patch on forehead (Happold, 1987)

Long straight horns present in both sexes, diverging outwards slightly with two or three well-developed spirals (Happold, 1987)

Dewlap of varying size on ventral surface of neck (Happold, 1987)

Black patches on poterior surface of forelimbs, and on all limbs close to hoof (Happold, 1987).

Tail long with well developed black terminal tuft (Happold, 1987)

Ontogeny and Reproduction

One young born after 270 day gestation (Happold, 1987)


In Cameroon, live in Isoberlinia woodlands, where they browse on Isoberlinia leaves (Happold, 1987)

Very selective in habitat requirements, leads to highly localized and disjunct distribution (Happold, 1987)

Timid, nocturnal (Happold, 1987)

Very sensitive to human disturbance and ecological changes (Happold, 1987)

Feed at night, may travel considerable distances in search of forage , especially in dry season, when they may graze on grasses (Happold, 1987)

During the day the rest in shade (Happold, 1987)

can tolerate high daytime temperatures better than other large antelopes (Happold, 1987)

Live in herds (Happold, 1987) In the Parc National de Bouba Ndjidah, Cameroon, herd size ranges from 3-20 individuals, but herds with 20-100 individuals are not uncommon (27% of observations).  These larg herds contain individuals of both sexes and all ages (Happold, 1987).

Males do not appear to be territorial, rarely show any aggressive behavior, even around the breeding season (Happold, 1987)





Countries: (IUCN, 2006).

Range Map (Redrawn from)

Conservation Status

Western giant eland precarious with a population which does not exceed 100-200 individuals, found primarily in Senegal (East, 1999)

Total eastern population15,000-20,000: 2,000 in Cameroon, 15,000 in Central African Republic, unknown number in Sudan (East, 1999) 



Local names ()
Literature Cited
East, R. [compiler]. 1999. African Antelope Database 1998. IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN.

Happold, D. C. D. 1973.  Large Mammals of West Africa.  London: Longman Group, Ltd.

Happold, D. C. D. 1987. The Mammals of Nigeria.  Oxford: Clarendon Press.

IEA (Institute of Applied Ecology) 1998. Taurotragus derbianus. In African Mammals Databank - A Databank for the Conservation and Management of the African Mammals Vol 1 and 2. Bruxelles: European Commission Directorate. Available online at

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at

Additional Resources

*Angwafo, T. E.  2006.  Status of Wildlife and its Utilisation in Faro and Benoué National Parks North Cameroon: Case study of the Derby Eland (Taurotragus derbianus gigas Gray, 1947) and the African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus Temminck, 1840).  PhD Thesis: Brandenburg Technical University

Antoninova, M., P. Nezerkova, X. Vincke, and N. Al-Ogoumrabe.  2004.  Herd structure of the giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus derbianus) in the Bandia Reserve, Senegal.  Agricultura Tropica et Subtropica, Universitas Agriculturae Praga; 37(1): 1-4.

*Bro-Jorgensen, J.  1997.  The ecology and behaviour of the Giant Eland (Tragelaphus derbianus, Gray 1847) in the wild.  M.Sc. Thesis, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen.

Chardonnet, B.  1997.  Antelope Survey Update. Senegal: status of the western giant eland.  IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group Report; 6: 49-52

*Clark, J. L.  1931.  The giant eland of Southern Sudan. Natural History; 31: 581-599

*Damiani, P., G. Wirtu, F. Miller, A. Cole, C. Pope, R. A. Godke, and B. L. Dresser.  2003.  Development of Giant eland antelope (Taurotragus derbianus) embryos following nuclear transfer with Common eland (Taurotragus oryx) and bovine (Bos taurus) oocytes.  Theriogenology; 59(1): 390.

*Dupuy, A. R.  1970.  A propos de l'Eland de Derby du Sénégal (Taurotragus derbianus derbianus). Mammalia; 34: 713-716.

East, R.  1997.  Antelope Survey Update. Status of the eastern giant eland.  IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group Report; 6: 52-57.

*Esser, J. D.  1980.  Grouping pattern of ungulates in Benoue National Park and adjacent areas, northern Cameroon.  Spixiana; 3(2): 179-192.

Gray, J. E.  1847.  Description of a new species of antelope from West Africa.  The Annals and Magazine of Natural History; 2(20): 286.

*Nezerkova, P., M. Antoninova, R. Kotrba, M. Hejcman, and P. H. Verner.  2004.  The conservation programme of the western giant eland (Tragelaphus derbianus derbianus) in Senegal.  Game and Wildlife Science; 21(4, Sp. Iss. SI): 811-814.

Pye, G. W., S. B. Citino, M. Bush, L. Klein, and W. Lance.  2001.  Anesthesia of eastern giant eland (Taurotragus derbianus gigas) at White Oak Conservation Center.  Joint 2001 Conference of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.  pp. 226-231

Reade, W.  1863.  Notes on the Derbyan eland, the African elephant, and the gorilla. Proceedings of the Scientific Meeting of the Zoological Society of London; Year 1: 169-172.

*Sayer, J. A.  1977.  Conservation of large mammals in the Reublic of Mali.  Biological Conservation; 12(4): 245-263.

Tangwing-Njoke, C.  2000.  Comparative adaptive behaviour of Derby Eland in the zoo of the Wildlife College, Garoua and the Benoue National Park Zoo.  Bonner Zoologische Monographien; (46): 397-398.

INLIB Van Lavieren, L. P., and J. D. Esser.  1980.  Numbers, distribution, and habitat preference of large mammals in Bouba-Ndjida National Park, Cameroon.  African Journal of Ecology; 18(2-3): 141-154.

Van Rensburg, I. B., and H. Ebedes.  1984.  Inanition in a Derby eland due to foreign body abomasitis.  Journal of the South African Veterinary Association; 55(2): 75-76.

Africa's Vanishing Wildlife. Pages 100-101.

Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Volume 5. Page 357.

*The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Pages 362-363.

National Audubon Society Field Guide to African Wildlife. Pages 508-509, Plate 120.

The Natural History of Antelopes. Page 175, Plate 1.

*Walker's Mammals of the World (Fifth Edition) - Volume 2. Pages 1415-1416.

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