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Blue Wildebeest Facts

Size Up to 5 ft (1.5 m) (shoulder height)
Speed 43-50 mph (70-80 km/h)
Weight 264-595 lb (120-270 kg)
Lifespan 15-20 years
Food Grass
Predators Lions, cheetahs, crocodiles
Habitat South and East Africa
Order Even-toed ungulates
Family Bovids
Scientific name Connochaetes taurinus
Characteristics Horns like cattle, stripes on their neck

Main Characteristics

When thinking of antelopes, you probably have small and graceful animals in mind – such as the ultra-fast Thomson’s gazelle. But the tall and strong wildebeests belong to the antelope family. The best-known is the blue wildebeest, which is described below.

Blue Wildebeest Photo: EcoPrint/Shutterstock

Anatomy and Appearance


The blue wildebeest has got vertical stripes on its coat from the neck down the shoulder to its back.


Female and male gnus both have horns. The longest horn ever found measured 32.6 inch (83 cm).

Males and Female

There are enormous differences between males and females in many animal species. Often the male is taller and more colorful, but sometimes it is also the other way round. Gnus are different: You can hardly detect any difference between them, males and females are almost equally sized and both have horns. But there is a trick that helps to distinguish the animals: The forehead of the male is usually black, while the female’s forehead is rust-colored.

Blue Wildebeest Photo: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock


Gnus only eat fresh grass. Therefore they always move to areas where it has rained recently, so that there is enough delicious and fresh grass waiting for them.


They Live in Large Herds

Blue Wildebeests form large herds of several thousand to hundred thousand animals. Living in the community increases their chances to survive. For instance when they are trying to cross a river populated by crocodiles. The more animals are crossing the river together, the more difficult it becomes for the crocodiles to clearly perceive one single gnu in order to snap at it.

Blue Wildebeest Photo: EcoPrint/Shutterstock

Senses and Abilities

Sense of Smell

Blue wildebeests have a very good sense of smell. They are a bit like frogs. They can detect thundery showers at distances of many miles. They can perceive them with their delicate sense of smell – or with their ears. They probably also use cloud formations for orientation, because storm clouds can be seen at large distances.

Blue Wildebeest Photo: AndreAnita/Shutterstock

The Cheetah Is Wildebeest To:

  • Hartebeest
  • Bonteboks

Animals in the Same Biome:

Ungulate Species Fact Sheets


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