Did you know?
Eland milk tastes delicious and if properly prepared, can be stored for up to 8 months.
The 1st thing you notice about a full-grown eland is its sheer bulk. Richard D Estes, author of The Safari Companion, 1 of the most authoritative guides on African animals, describes it as 'an antelope in ox’s clothing, the biggest African bovid'.
In fact, the word eland translates from Dutch as ‘moose’ or ‘elk’.
It’s not unusual for a full-grown male to weigh 1000kg. And yet, eland are as agile as smaller antelope. They can leap over 3-metre fences in a single bound, from a standing start.
Although they can be domesticated and milked – so placid are they – this leapiness is the main reason why you don’t see eland being farmed at every turn. It’s been tried in Russia and in South Africa. Sometimes they don’t even bother to leap. They just use their weight to plough through the barrier.
In South African rock art, the eland is 1 of the most commonly depicted animals, and that is because it had a huge mystical significance for the San people, also known as the Bushmen, who created this art. It was seen as a ‘power animal’, linked to rainmaking, to trance rituals and rites of passage.
Part of that mysticism must surely be the eland’s powers of survival. It’s a survivor, able to thrive on very little water, in extreme temperatures.
One of the easiest places to see them – and the rock art where they are depicted – is the Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal. This area has long been 1 of their strongholds, and the conditions, in summer at least, are not as harsh as some of their other habitats in the semi-arid Karoo and savannahs.
If at all possible, listen to an eland herd as it passes. You’ll hear a distinct clicking sound as they walk.
Scientists still don’t know exactly what part of their body makes the clicks, although 1 of the favoured theories is that the sound is made by the 2 halves of their hooves moving apart and then clicking back together.
There are also some that say that the plosive clicks in the San language originated as a homage to the eland and their strange walking clicks.