The White-tailed Gnu or Black Wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) is a stocky, thick-coated antelope with horns that swing down, forward, and upward in tight, angular hooks. The long muzzle is broad, flat-fronted, and covered in dense black fur. The overall color is dark brown, but with a black "beard" and chest tassels. The upright hairs of the mane are whitish with conspicuously black tips. Toward the rear of the animal, the sharp angle of the pelvic bone is prominent.
Although mainly a grazer, the White-tailed Gnu browses woody plants extensively in the winter. Historically, the White-tailed Gnu was migratory over large portions of the Karoo and Highveld in Southern Africa. It moved between temperate grasslands in the Highveld to the east in the winter and Karoo shrublands to the west in the rainy summer. By the mid-19th century, these large-scale movements had been disrupted by European settlement and this gnu had been brought close to extinction. It is now extinct in the wild, but by the mid-1990s the captive population (distributed across many small farms) was around 10,000, up from a world population low of around 300 to 600 individuals.
(Kingdon 1997; Huffman 2011)
- Huffman, B.A. 2011. Black Wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou). P. 707 in: Wilson, D.E. and Mittermeier, R.A., eds. Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 2. Hoofed Mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
- Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.