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Eland - Adaptation

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Eland can adapt to a wide range of conditions. They can be found in arid regions, savannas, woodland and grassland areas, and in mountain ranges as high as 15,000 ft (4,570 m). Eland, like all bovids, are ruminants (cud-chewing animals) living on a diet of leaves, fruits, seed pods, flowers, tubers, and bark. They sometimes break down higher branches with their horns to feed on leaves of trees. Eland are adept at picking out high quality food from among poorer vegetation, a habit known as foliage gleaning. During rainy seasons eland graze on green grass.

A bull eland in eastern Africa. Photograph by Christina Loke. Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.

Eland are found in East Africa (Kenya, Malawi, and Mozambique) and in southern Africa (from Zimbabwe to South Africa). In West Africa (from Senegal to Sudan) a second species, the giant eland (T. derbianus) is found from Senegal in West Africa to southern Sudan and northern Uganda. Like other antelopes, eland are somewhat independent of drinking, since they are able to meet most of their needs from the water contained in plants they eat. Some of the strategies eland use in water conservation are common to all antelopes. Seeking shade during the hottest part of the day and feeding during the coolest part is one strategy. Other water-conservation strategies include the ability to concentrate urine, heat storage, the ability to allow body temperature to rise, and exhaling dry air by recovering water that would otherwise be lost.


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