Last week Namibia had a public holiday, so Rob and I decided to visit the Daan Viljoen Resort which is about 30 kms from Windhoek. We were gratified to see how green everything was after the recent rains in the area and the little dam in the nature reserve had enough water to attract a large herd of Eland and a few Blue Wildebeest. One is always assured of seeing Blue Wildebeest at the reserves in Namibia as they favour open bushveld with short grass.
The Blue Wildebeest (also known as a Brindled Gnu) differs from the Black Wildebeest in both distribution and appearance. The Black Wildebeest is only found in a small area in South Africa and is easily distinguishable by its white tail (giving it the alternative name of White-tailed Gnu). The Blues can be blue-grey or grey-brown in colour and they have magnificent manes, throat hairs and beards.
They have vertical bands of dark brown hair on their bodies, which makes them look wrinkled.
We saw a couple of Blue Wildebeest with young ones. Their breeding season is between November and February and they usually only have one calf, born after a gestation period of about eight and a half months.
The babies can stand up within seven minutes of being born and are able to move with the herd within hours. They need to be able to do this to protect themselves from predators. The little ones are much lighter in colour than their parents, turning darker about nine weeks after birth.
The males are quite territorial, marking out their boundaries with heaps of dung, secretions from glands and by pawing the ground. They show their aggression by snorting loudly. Blue Wildebeest have to be on the look out for lions, cheetah, hyenas and wild dogs.
On hot days in game reserves it is typical to see groups of Wildebeest lying lazily under shady trees as they prefer to graze when the temperature drops and who can blame them for that! They tend to move seasonally in search of better grazing, as can be seen with the huge migrational herds of the Serengeti.