Leeupoort: Wildebeest

Blouwildebees

LEEUPOORT – Wildebeest are known for their annual migration to new pastures, however at Leeupoort they do not migrate due to the restrictions of game fences. Wildebeest usually begin their migration in the months of May or June when drought forces them to go on the move. The reason that the wildebeest is a migratory animal is because the grass that it feeds on is not a very good provider of energy and minerals.

Wildebeest taking turns sleeping while others stand guard against an attack by invading predators.

Zebras and wildebeest group together in open savannah environments when there is a high chance of predation. This grouping strategy reduces predation risk because larger groups decrease each individual’s chance of being hunted, and also because predators are more easily seen in open areas.

Wildebeest can also listen in on the alarm calls of other species, and by doing so can reduce their risk of predation. One study showed that along with other ungulates, wildebeests responded more strongly to the baboon alarm calls compared to the baboon contest calls even though both types of calls had similar patterns, amplitudes, and durations. Due to their migratory ways, the wildebeest do not form permanent pair bonds or defend a set territory.

Due to their confinement in small areas in South Africa, the two species of wildebeest, the black wildebeest and the blue wildebeest have interbred, resulting in fertile hybrid young. These two species are brought into close contact with each other on game farms and reserves in South Africa. The resulting hybrid young may include characteristics of both species and even some intermediate traits. The hybrids also tended to have strange dental, horn, and skull shapes. Therefore there are only the blue wildebeest at Leeupoort.

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