The Great eland is the largest species of antelope in the world. These animals have a smooth reddish-brown to chestnut coat with 8-12 well-defined vertical white stripes on the torso. Males are usually darker than females and the color of the male's coat darkens with age. Giant elands have a crest of short black hair that extends down their neck to the middle of their back. Their legs are slender and slightly lighter on the inner surfaces, with black and white markings just above the hooves. There are large black spots on the upper forelegs. The bridge of the nose is charcoal black, and there is a thin, indistinct tan-colored line, which is the chevron, between the eyes. Both sexes have tightly spiraled, 'V'-shaped horns, however, males' horns are thicker at the ends, longer, and more divergent. Males in this species are also larger than females.
Great elands are found in Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Mali, Guinea, Senegal, and South Sudan. They live in the broad-leafed savanna, woodlands, and glades of central and western Africa. They are also found in forests as well as on the fringes of deserts. These animals inhabit places near hilly or rocky landscapes and those that have nearby water sources.
Great elands are nocturnal animals that have large home ranges and seasonal migration patterns. They are social and form separate groups of males and of females and juveniles. Adult males mainly remain alone and often spend time with females for an hour to a week. Giant eland herds usually consist of 15-25 animals (sometimes even more) and do not disband during the wet season. During the day, herds often rest in sheltered areas. As many other animals do, Giant elands scrape mineral lick sites with the help of horns to loosen the soil. These animals are alert and wary. If a male senses danger, he will give deep-throated barks while leaving the herd, repeating the process until the whole herd is aware of the danger. Giant elands can move quickly, and despite their size are good jumpers. They can jump up to 1.5 m (4.9 ft) high. Giant elands have many predators, however, they are not easily taken by any predator, especially heavy and large horned males which can be dangerous even for a lion pride.
Great elands are polygynous and dominant males mate with multiple females. During the breeding season males fight for dominance. During these fights, they lock horns and try to twist the necks of their opponents. Males also rub their foreheads in fresh urine or mud and thresh and throw loose earth on themselves using their horns. Great elands breed throughout the year with the peak in the wet season. The gestation period lasts nine months after which a single calf is delivered, and it remains with its mother for 6 months. Lactation can last for 4 to 5 months. After the first 6 months, the young eland might join a group of other juveniles. Females usually reach reproductive maturity at about two years of age, and males at 4 to 5 years.
The main threats to Great elands are overhunting for their rich meat and habitat destruction caused by the expansion of human and livestock populations. They are also hunted for their meat, hides and for trophies as game animals.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of Giant elands is around 12,000-14,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.