The common eland is a social antelope, often forming open and fluid herds of 25 to 60 animals, and occasionally congregating in groups of over 1,000, particularly during the rainy season (2) (3). Mature males generally form herds, as do mature females, and young common eland congregate in nursery herds (4). Within these herds, a hierarchy exists, which determines access to things such as receptive females (if a male), and feeding sites (if a female) (3). Males are not territorial, but will become possessive over females that are receptive to mating (4).
While mating and births may take place at any time of the year (3), matings are most common during the rains, resulting in a peak of births nine months later at the end of the dry season (2). Each female bears a single calf, which remains hidden in vegetation for the first two weeks of life (3). Common eland calves grow remarkably quickly, due to the richness of the nutritious eland milk (2), and they soon join a nursery herd (2). Common eland are known to have lived for up to 25 years (2).
Foliage and herbs comprise the bulk of the common eland’s diet, but this antelope also consumes fruits, seeds (2), green grass, and will dig in the ground for tubers, roots and bulbs (3). Being adapted to the arid conditions of many parts of Africa, the common eland is able to survive without water, as long as it feeds on a sufficient amount of succulent, moisture-rich food (4). This is why the common eland, although active during the day and night (3), is most often found feeding during the night, when the vegetation has absorbed moisture from the air and provides a meal with a higher water content (4). The common eland is also adapted to conserve any precious water it has, by allowing the body temperature to rise during the day, hence reducing the need to sweat. As the sun sets, the body heat then radiates out into the cooler night air (4).