Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin

Blue Wildebeest

Connochaetes taurinus


Blue wildebeest are bolides with broad shoulders and a broad muzzle. Both males and females have un-ridged horns that are parenthetical shaped. Male blue wildebeest tend to have darker colored fur and thicker horns than females. Blue wildebeest have tan forelegs and a slate gray body with dark vertical stripes on the shoulders and back. Like other wildebeest, the blue wildebeest have a white-tan mane and beard, but this species is smaller than other wildebeest.


This species can be found in eastern and southern Africa from Kenya to eastern Namibia. Blue wildebeest can survive in a variety of habitats from dense bush to open woodland floodplains. This species prefers acacia savannas and plains with rapid re-growing grasses with moderate soil moisture.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Blue wildebeest are grazing herbivores, consuming only vegetation. This species grazes during the day and moonlit nights, consuming rapidly growing colonial grasses of the savannah and plains. When grasses are sparse wildebeests also consume leaves off of shrubs and trees.


The mating season for this species is called rut, which occurs for three weeks during favorable climatic conditions for raising young, such as immediately after the rainy season. Rut begins typically during a full moon when an increase testosterone in the males causes them to form mating territories called leks. Males bellow to attract and herd as many females as possible into their leks where they will defend these females by sparring other males. Male wildebeest do not sleep or eat when sexually active females are nearby; instead they serenade these females by humming, bellowing and croaking. Females produce a single calf during migrations, 8 months after mating. Young leave their mothers after 8 months to form peer groups. Female wildebeest reach sexual maturity at 16 months but do not typically reproduce until 28 months while males become sexually mature by 24 months.

Months and Times of Activity

During calving season segregated groups are formed. These groups include pregnant females, females with young calves, groups of yearlings separated from their mothers, and bachelor males. When food sources are sparse, wildebeest migrate will hundreds of kilometers to find food. They also migrate between three home ranges depending on the season. Wildebeest migrate to a small wet range during the rainy season, a larger dry range during the dry season and sometimes a transitional range is used between the wet and dry ranges.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

  • When predators approach a wildebeest herd, adults bunch together, stamp and utter loud shrill alarm calls.
  • Imprinting between mother and calf is very important in wildebeests. This allows mothers and calves to recognize one another through scent even when separated during large herd movements.
  • To read legends featuring this animal go to:
  • Children’s book featuring this animal: A Day in the Life: Grassland Animals Wildebeest by Louise Spilsbury


Geraci, G. 2011. "Connochaetes taurinus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 03, 2014 at