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Connochaetes gnou

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA BOVIDAE

Scientific Name: Connochaetes gnou
Species Authority: (Zimmermann, 1780)
Common Name(s):
English Black Wildebeest, White-tailed Gnu

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Mallon, D.P. (Antelope Red List Authority) & Hoffmann, M. (Global Mammal Assessment)
Justification:
The Black Wildebeest is currently largely restricted to protected areas and private reserves, with a total global population estimated at more than 18,000 (with over 11,000 in its natural range and over 7,000 on farmlands in Namibia - an area outside its natural range). The population is increasing and there are no major threats at present.
History:
2003 Least Concern (IUCN 2003)
2003 Least Concern
1994 Vulnerable (Groombridge 1994)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Black Wildebeest occurs in South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho. By the end of the 19th century, excessive hunting had reduced the formerly vast population to a few individuals surviving on two farms in the Free State Province of South Africa; since then, protection by farmers and conservation agencies has allowed the species to recover (East 1999, Vrahimis in press). It has now been reintroduced to parts of its former range (western Swaziland and western Lesotho) and into farmland areas outside of its natural range (Namibia). A detailed discussion of the historical distribution of the species is given by Von Richter (1971).
Countries:
Native:
South Africa
Reintroduced:
Lesotho; Swaziland
Introduced:
Namibia
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Recent estimates are available for almost all of this species’ populations, including total counts for protected areas and questionnaire surveys for private land. Summation of these estimates gives a total population estimate of more than 18,000, of which about 80% is on private farms and conservancies and 20% in protected areas. Population trend is increasing, especially on private land, with a large extralimital population now established in Namibia, where importations from South Africa led to a dramatic rise in the estimated total numbers, from 150 in 1982 to more than 7,000 in 1992 (East 1999).
Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: A species characteristics of the open plains grasslands and karoo shrublands of South Africa and Lesotho. The high central plateau grasslands are characterized by flat to rolling hills, and mountainous areas with altitudes ranging from 1,350-2,150 m (Vrahimis in press). The Black Wildebeest is predominantly a grazer and prefers short grassveld (Von Richter 1974).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Previously, the main threat to this species was hunting pressure, habitat loss, and periodic outbreak of disease (Vrahimis in press). However, now that the species has recovered and numbers are increasing, the only significant threat is the problem of hybridization with the Common Wildebeest, C. taurinus, which can occur when the two species are mixed unnaturally on fenced land (East 1999). Hybrids are known to be fertile (Fabricius et al. 1988).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Currently, about 20% of the population occurs in protected areas, with around 80% occurring on private farmland and conservancies (East 1999). The most immediate conservation need is avoiding keeping C. taurinus and C. gnou in the same areas.

Bibliography [top]

East, R. 1999. African Antelope Database 1999. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Fabricius, C., Lowry, D. and van den Berg, P. 1988. Fecund black wildebeest x blue wildebeest hybrids. South African Journal of Wildlife Research 18: 35-37.

Von Richter, W. 1971. Past and present distribution of the black wildebeest, Connochaetes gnou Zimmermann (Artiodactyla: Bovidae) with special reference to the history of some herds in South Africa. Annals of the Transvaal Museum 27: 35-57.

Von Richter, W. 1974. Connochaetes gnou. Mammalian Species 50: 1-6.

Vrahimis, S. In press. Connochaetes gnou. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa, Academic Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group 2008. Connochaetes gnou. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 30 July 2014.
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