The Blue wildebeest is an easily recognized species of antelope with highly located shoulders and horns, resembling these of a cow. This animal resembles a broad and elongated muzzle. Blue wildebeest are known to gather in huge migratory herds. These antelope are so called due to the silvery-blue sheen of their fur, which actually varies from greyish to brown. The front feet of the animal exhibit black stripes, due to which it is nicknamed the 'brindled gnu'. The front part of its face, the mane as well as the long tail display black coloration. Their beards are long and colored in either black or white, depending on subspecies. This species exhibits sexual dimorphism with males, being noticeably bigger than females.
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example, foliage, for the main component of its die...
In zoology, a graminivore (not to be confused with a granivore) is an herbivorous animal that feeds primarily on grass. Graminivory is a form of g...
In zoology, a folivore is a herbivore that specializes in eating leaves. Mature leaves contain a high proportion of hard-to-digest cellulose, less ...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
A cursorial organism is one that is adapted specifically to run. An animal can be considered cursorial if it has the ability to run fast (e.g. chee...
Precocial species are those in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. Precocial species are normall...
Grazing is a method of feeding in which a herbivore feeds on plants such as grasses, or other multicellular organisms such as algae. In agriculture...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Congregatory animals tend to gather in large numbers in specific areas as breeding colonies, for feeding, or for resting.
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
Polygynandry is a mating system in which both males and females have multiple mating partners during a breeding season.
A herd is a social grouping of certain animals of the same species, either wild or domestic. The form of collective animal behavior associated with...
Animal migration is the relatively long-distance movement of individual animals, usually on a seasonal basis. It is the most common form of migrati...
The natural range of this species occupies eastern and southern Africa. Blue wildebeest are found from Kenya to eastern Namibia and as far south as the Orange River in South Africa. Preferred types of habitat are acacia savannahs and plains with rapidly re-growing grasses and moderate levels of soil moisture. Nevertheless, Blue wildebeest may occur in different habitats such as dense bushes or open woodland floodplains.
Blue wildebeest are highly social creatures, gathering in one of the largest migratory herds among antelope species. This is basically caused by a seasonal shortage of suitable food and water, as a result of the harsh climate within their range. Meanwhile, populations in Serengeti-Masai Mara (Kenya/Tanzania) make up a part of the largest concentrations of large land mammals, found around the globe. Additionally, these animals constantly travel in search of suitable grass and water. Nevertheless, some individuals of this species prefer living in the same territory throughout the year, where they gather in small social units, consisting of a single alpha male as well as up to 10 adult females with their young. Females of these groups form dominant hierarchy, which is closed for outsiders. These animals spend the hottest part of the day resting. Periods of increased activity are the morning and late afternoon.
Blue wildebeest exhibit both polygynous (one male mates with multiple females) and polygynandrous (promiscuous) (both males and females breed with multiple mates) mating systems. The mating season lasts for 3 weeks, occurring just after the rainy season. The gestation period lasts for 8 months, yielding a single baby, which is capable of standing during the first 15 minutes after birth. The newborn calf will accompany its mother everywhere until 9 months old. By the end of this period, the young wildebeest is weaned but continues living with its mother until the following breeding season, when a new calf is born. After that, young females remain in their natal herd, while males disperse. The age of reproductive maturity is 16 months old in females and 2 years old in males.
The biggest concerns to the population of this species are associated with human activities, due to which some populations cannot make their usual migration. For example, deforestation and irrigation practices bring to decline in water sources. On the other hand, fences don't allow these animals to travel. Some populations of Blue wildebeest regularly migrate to unprotected areas, where they suffer from loss of their natural habitat and are commonly poached. As a result, smaller populations of this species are restricted to protected areas. All of the above-mentioned factors are compounded by diseases, transmitted by cattle and negatively impacting the local Blue wildebeest populations.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population of the Blue wildebeest is around 1,550,000 animals, including all five recognized subspecies: the Serengeti population - about 1,300,000 animals; 130,000 - Blue Wildebeest; 5,000-10,000 - Cookson’s wildebeest, and 50,000-75,000-Nyassa wildebeest. Eastern White-bearded Wildebeest are currently facing a sharp population decline and are estimated to be 6,000-8,000 individuals. Overall, population numbers of Blue wildebeests remain stable today, and the animals are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.
Due to grazing, these animals help to fertilize grasses, which they do through their urine and feces.