Family Bovidae, Sub-family Alcelaphinae Connochaetes taurinus
Blue wildebeest are water dependent and must drink at least every second day. They are grazers and peak activity is early mornings and late afternoons with some moonlit feeding.
Wildebeest can defend themselves from predators such as wild dog, cheetah and sometimes even hyaena by having the adults facing outward towards the attack and keeping the vulnerable young inside. With lions their speed (up to 80km/hr) is there only defence.
Wildebeest herds are have a home-range but dominant bulls are territorial and try to keep the females within his area for as long as possible during breeding season. The territory is marked with paw scrapings using the inter-digital gland and dung middens. Also snorting and posturing are used when other males approach.
Mating takes place in March/April and a single calf is born in November/December after a gestation of 8,5 months. They exhibit a pulse birth to reduce predation meaning that all the calves are born in a very short space of time. The predators in the area can only eat so much and every day that the calves survive, they become more difficult for predators to catch. By synchronizing the birth not only with other wildebeest but impala and other herbivores, they further reduce the risk. Average lifespan in the wild is 18 years.
Botswana lost 90% of its wildebeest population due to the erection of veterinary cordon fences in the 1960’s and 70’s. Wildebeest populations can only reach huge proportions where they can migrate from summer to winter grazing as they do in east Africa. The wildebeest we see today in Botswana are largely sedentary.