The internet is absolutely taken with this wild creature, and this man’s unadvisable behavior, in today’s episode of “what the heck is that!?” Spoiler alert: it’s a kudu.
Popular “animal lover” Twitter account B&S is currently sending a truly gorgeous species viral. Kicking off their tweet with a solid question, the account asks: “Please who knows the name of this animal?”
In typical internet fashion, mass hysteria followed before someone gave a sensible answer hours-in. This isn’t terribly surprising, however, given the animal at hand: a kudu. Or, a pair of kudu, rather. And they are truly “at hand” as the unidentified man in the footage pulls a total faux-pa by hand-feeding these wild animals. Take a look, before we answer the ripe question “what the heck is a kudu, anyway?” below:
What is a Kudu?
Still here? Good. Let’s learn some things, as you’d be easily forgiven for not having heard of this species. That’s because these wild, beautiful relatives of antelope are indigenous to eastern and southern Africa. There are two different species in the genus Tragelaphus:
- The Lesser kudu, Tragelaphus imberbis, is native to eastern Africa
- The Greater kudu, Tragelaphus strepsiceros, is native to eastern as well as southern Africa
Both species are near identical, with their size being the main difference. And they are an impressive sight. Adult males can stand well over 5-feet-tall at their shoulder alone. As this viral video shows, they become several feet taller once they raise that crown of curly horns, too.
Alongside their stripes, these horns are a defining feature of the kudu. Their corkscrew shape makes them a trophy hunter prize, but thankfully the species is not endangered. In fact, they’re currently listed at “least concern.”
If you’re not seeing one out, however, it’s rare you’d ever see a kudu in the wild, let alone on the internet. These large herbivores rely on their camouflage to stay hidden in thickets. One is rarely seen in the open, and if they are they’re prime prey for Africa’s big cats and hyenas.
And if you do happen to see one in Africa, please don’t do as this man did. Kudu are beautiful, sure, but like all wild animals, they must be left wild.
Habituating is Always a Big No-No
Aside from a kudu being large enough to easily trample and kill us humans, hand-feeding wildlife leads to habituation.
Wildlife becomes habituated when humans condition them to expect food from our presence, and it always ends poorly for the animals. Many are euthanized for posing a threat to people (especially bears), when all they’re doing is acting on the behavior ignorant individuals are teaching them.
Here in the U.S., this is a big problem in Yellowstone National Park, where tourists continue to treat our similarly large herbivores, elk, like they’re in a petting zoo. They’re not.
This African footage bares an unfortunate similarity to a recent viral “touron” video of a Yellowstone tourist attempting to hand-feed an elk. But as the park and that post will tell you, “A fed animal is a dead animal.”