Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin

Lesser Kudu

Tragelaphus imberbis


The lesser kudu is a large antelope.  Male lesser kudu have long twisting horns with longitudinal keels and that are about 0.48-0.91 meters long. The fur of the male lesser kudu can be a various shades of gray while females have a distinct reddish-brown coat. Lesser kudu have a long white stripe down the spine with 11-14 white stripes perpendicular to the spinal stripe. There is a black stripe from each eye to the nose and a white stripe from the eyes to the center of the face. There is white fur on the underside of the tail, patches of the throat and chest, abdomen, lip, four spots on the lower jaw, and white patch above each hoof. The tip of the tail is black along with a black stripe along the chest.


The lesser kudu can be found in northeast Africa. This species prefers dry, flat and densely thicketed areas. Lesser kudu can also be found inhabiting woodlands and hilly areas. Lesser kudu do no not prefer open areas and require dense thickets as a safe place for daytime resting.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Lesser kudu is an herbivore, feeding on vegetative material. This species consume a wide variety of bush and tree leaves, shoots and twigs, they also consume grasses, herbs, and fruits. Feeding occurs mostly at dusk or dawn. Lesser kudu are able to roam in waterless deserts.


There is no distinct breeding season for the lesser kudu because female lesser kudu have independent estrus cycles. To compete for access to females, males participate in shoving matches where they press their heads and horns together attempting to force their horns down the nape of their opponent. Larger males tend to be the most dominant, overpowering smaller individuals when competing for females. Seven and one half to eight months after mating, the female produces one calf. Male calves remain with their mother for the first two years while female calves remain with their mother and a small group of other females. Lesser kudu become sexually mature after 1.25-1.50 years.

Months and Times of Activity

Lesser kudu males are solitary while female lesser kudu form groups of 2 or 3 individuals. This species is nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. After sunrise, lesser kudu seek shelter in dense thickets where their striped coats perform perfect camouflage while they rest during the day.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

•    Populations of lesser kudu have suffered in Tsavo National Park due to elephant populations altering the vegetative landscape.

•    Males and females determine superiority by standing on their hind legs and attempting to push the other over.

•    To read legends featuring this animal go to:

•    Children’s book featuring this animal: The Antelope Who Loved Cantaloupe


Paschka, N. 2000. "Tragelaphus imberbis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2014 at