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The black wildebeest lives in Africa, within the boundaries of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. They live on open plains, grasslands and shrublands.
The black wildebeest is differentiated from the blue wildebeest by its white tail (hence its nickname, the white-tailed gnu). The characteristic “ge-nu” call of the male wildebeest also contributes to this alternative name. Adult male black wildebeest are highly territorial and will defend groups of females called harems in order to maintain their dominance and mating viability. Offspring are born once per year and are weaned after four months. Male wildebeest do not participate in rearing their young.
The black wildebeest can live for around 20 years.
Black wildebeest are primarily grazers. Grass makes up nearly all of their diet, though they will also eat shrubs and herbs. Preferentially eating shorter grasses, the black wildebeest will orient itself to avoid more mature, and therefore longer, grasses. They can go several days without drinking water if necessary.
There’s an estimated 18,000 black wildebeest.
The black wildebeest is also known as the white-tailed gnu. They are extremely fast runners, reaching speeds of around 80 kilometers per hour. Males cannot breed without unobstructed views of their territory.
Why are they Endangered?
Historically, black wildebeest were nearly driven to extinction through hunting, habitat loss and disease. Luckily, their populations were recovered through aggressive conservation efforts. Currently, the only significant threats to the black wildebeest are hybridisation with blue wildebeest and the lack of genetic diversity in some populations.