Tragelaphus oryx 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Tragelaphus oryx
Species Authority: (Pallas, 1766)
Common Name(s):
English Common Eland, Eland
Taxonomic Notes: The genus Taurotragus, in which the Common Eland and the Giant Eland, Tragelaphus derbianus, are sometimes included, is here included in the genus Tragelaphus, in accordance with recent genetic evidence and classifications (see Kingdon 2013 for summary). Three subspecies of Common Eland have been recognized, although their validity requires investigation (Thouless 2013).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-05-31
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M.
Total numbers have been estimated at ca. 136,000, about 50% of which occur in protected areas and 30% on private land. Population trends are varied in protected areas, increasing on private land and decreasing elsewhere (20%). It therefore does not currently meet the criteria for threatened status or for Near Threatened. The Common Eland’s Red List status will not change as long as substantial, stable populations continue to occur in a good number of protected areas and it remains a popular and economically significant species on private land. The requirement for large areas to accommodate its seasonal wanderings is likely to result in further contraction of the distribution and numbers of free-ranging populations as human settlement expands. This may be at least partly compensated for by the continued growth of its numbers on private farms and conservancies.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Common Eland formerly occurred throughout the savannah woodlands of eastern and southern Africa, extending into high-altitude grasslands and the arid savannahs and scrublands of the Kalahari and Karoo in southern Africa. It has been eliminated from more than half of its former range by the expansion of human populations (and is now extinct in Burundi), and their numbers have decreased dramatically since the 1970s as a result of civil wars and their aftermath in countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Angola and Mozambique. They have been reintroduced to areas of southern Africa (particularly South Africa) and introduced outside of their natural range to southern and central Namibia (East 1999).
Countries occurrence:
Angola (Angola); Botswana; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Ethiopia; Kenya; Lesotho; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Rwanda; South Africa; South Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Regionally extinct:
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):4900
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:East (1999) produced a total population estimate of 136,000 (correcting for under-counting biases in aerial surveys), with stable/increasing national populations now confined to Namibia (where the majority are on private land), Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi and possibly Tanzania. Population trends vary from increasing to decreasing within individual protected areas, and are generally increasing on private land and decreasing in other areas.

Citing various authors, East (1999) indicates that population density estimates obtained by aerial counts in areas where the species is moderately common generally range from about 0.05-0.4/km². Higher density estimates (0.6-1.0/km²) have been obtained in areas such as Omo National Park (N.P.) in Ethiopia and Nyika N.P. in Malawi (Thouless 2013). Ground surveys or total counts of areas where the species is common have produced similar density estimates.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:90000-110000Continuing decline of mature individuals:No
Extreme fluctuations:NoPopulation severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Common Elands are one of the most adaptable ruminants, inhabiting sub-desert, acacia savannah, miombo woodland, and alpine moorlands to 4,900 m (Grimshaw et al. 1995, Thouless 2013). They are not found in deep forest, in true deserts, or in completely open grassland, though they do occur in grassland with good herb cover (Thouless 2013). Common Eland are primarily browsers, and move long distances in search of ephemeral food sources.
Generation Length (years):7.8

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The Common Eland is hunted for food, sport, and other purposes. Their meat is highly prized and each animal provides a large quantity of meat, so they are particular targets of illegal hunters. The proportion of animals taken from the wild and from ranches is not known.

Common Eland have also been widely domesticated in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya, as well as in Russia and the Ukraine (Thouless 2013). For a number of perceived advantages including: a high yield of nutritious, 'long life', antibacterial milk; there ability to be readily tamed and herded; long life expectancy in captivity; and there ability to survive in arid regions (low water requirements) (Thouless and references therein). However, management practices such as high food supplement costs, confining them at night and herding them during the day are likely to negate their advantages over cattle in many environments (Hillman 1979).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss (due to expanding human settlements) and poaching for its superior meat have resulted in considerable reductions of range and populations. The Common Eland's habit of wandering over large areas may affect its future in ways that cannot be fully predicted (Thouless 2013), for example it may make the species more vulnerable to poaching or disease.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: About half of this estimated total population occurs in protected areas and 30% on private land (East 1999). Protected areas that support major populations include Omo (Ethiopia), Serengeti, Katavi, Ruaha and Selous-Kilombero (Tanzania), Kafue and North Luangwa (Zambia), Nyika (Malawi), Etosha (Namibia), Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Botswana/South Africa) and Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park (South Africa). Most of these populations appear to be stable.

Common Eland have been reintroduced to a number of game ranches and private ranchland in southern Africa (particularly South Africa), reflecting its value as a trophy animal, and this has done much to bolster numbers (Thouless 2013). In addition, animals have been introduced widely outside of their natural range; for example, although their natural range in Namibia is restricted to the northeastern parts, they now occur widely on game ranches in the southern and central parts (East 1999).

Errata [top]

Errata reason: This errata assessment has been created because the map was accidentally left out of the version published previously.

Classifications [top]

4. Grassland -> 4.7. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
3. Shrubland -> 3.7. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical High Altitude
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:No
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Percentage of population protected by PAs (0-100):41-50
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:Yes
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:Yes
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.2. War, civil unrest & military exercises
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

East, R. (compiler). 1999. African Antelope Database 1998. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Grimshaw, J. M., Cordeiro, N. J. and Foley, C. A. H. 1995. The mammals of Kilimanjaro. Journal of the East Africa Natural History Society 84: 105-139.

Hillman, J. C. 1979. The biology of the Eland (Taurotragus oryx Pallas) in the wild. PhD thesis, University of Nairobi, Kenya.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. Available at:

Kingdon, J. 2013. Genus Tragelaphus. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Thouless, C. R. 2013. Tragelaphus oryx. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2016. Tragelaphus oryx. (errata version published in 2017) The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22055A115166135. . Downloaded on 27 May 2017.
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