All You Need to Know About the Mighty Wildebeest


The mighty wildebeest or “wild beast” earned its name because of its menacing appearance consisting of a large head, pointed beard, and sharp horns. 

The wildebeest is a mammal which forms part of the antelope family. Wildebeest, also known as Gnu, can be found in the central, southern and eastern parts of Africa and prefer green plains and open woodlands. 

Despite being targeted by numerous predators daily, the wildebeest population remains high and unaffected.

Quick Facts

Average Lifespan

20 Years


Up to 1.3 metres


270 kg

Main Predators

lions, cheetahs, hyenas

Physical Characteristics

With a rectangular-shaped head, a hefty front, slim hindquarters, lanky hind legs, and long hair, it’s no wonder the wildebeest received its name.

Both the male and female wildebeest possess horns which extend outwards into curved semicircles. The adult wildebeest male’s horns are embossed.


There are numerous subspecies of wildebeest and each has its own unique appearance.

Blue Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus taurinus)

The blue wildebeest is found in southern Africa and its body is marked with dark, vertical bands on its front quarters.

Eastern White-bearded Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus albojubatus)

The Eastern White-bearded wildebeest stands out because of its white beard on its black face. These wildebeest are found in the Great Rift Valley.

Western White-bearded Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus mearnsi)

The Western White-bearded wildebeest also stands out because of its white beard on its black face. They can be found in the northern side of Tanzania and southern Kenya.

Cookson’s Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus cooksoni)

The Cookson’s wildebeest has a black face with longish hair on the hump and tail. These wildebeest can be found in Zambia.

Nyassaland Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus johnstoni)

With a black face and a white stripe above the nose, this wildebeest can be spotted between Mozambique and east-central Tanzania.

Black Wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou)

The black wildebeest has a black or dark brown body, a whitish tail with an erect mane.

Mating Season

The male wildebeest are often referred to as “clowns of savanna” because of their uncanny behaviour during mating season. 

To attract females, males rub their scent into the ground. To mark their breeding territory they urinate or defecate in the area.


wildebeest calf

The wildebeest remains pregnant for up to 8.5 months, before giving birth to a single calf. These calves are able to walk as soon as they are born, and can run after only a few days have passed. 10 days after birth, the calves will move from their milk-based diet to a grass diet.

Interested in Seeing the Mighty Wildebeest in the Wild?

Africa Travel Co offers a variety of tours travellers can choose from to be able to experience seeing wildebeest in their natural habitat. If you’re keen on seeing wildebeest, have a look at our tours on africatravelco.com or simply get in touch with our team.

Great African Trek | 56 Day Overland Tour | Cape Town to Nairobi

Tanzanian Game Parks and Zanzibar | 10 Days Nairobi to Dar es Salaam