Elands live in both steppe and sparse forests. They are also found in semidesert areas and at elevations up to 14400 ft. During the heat of the day, they are often found in shaded areas.
Eland males are much larger than females, weighing 400-1000 kg compared to 300-600 kg for females. Hides are a uniform fawn color with some vertical white striping on the upper parts. A dewlap, thought to be an adaptation for heat dissapation, hangs from the throat and neck. Heavy horns are twisted in a corkscrew fashion and grow up to 4 ft. long on males, 2.2 ft. long on females. A short mane occurs on the nape, and males have long hairs on the throat.
Dominant males mate with multiple females. In some areas, there are distinct breeding seasons--in Zambia, for example, young are born in July and August. Gestation lasts from 8.5-9 months and only single young are born. Male young weigh between 28-35 kg, while female young weight between 23-31 kg. Small calves lie in concealment rather than remaining with their mothers. Weaning occurs after 6 months, and sexual maturity occurs at about 3 years. Maximum lifespan is 25 years. Young often associate in groups of their peers.
Herds usually number up to 25 individuals, although larger temporary aggregations of females and calves occur during the wet season. There may be more than one adult male in a herd, but there is a strict dominance hierarchy that controls access to breeding females. Home ranges of females, which make extensive movements during the wet season, are much than those of males, . Male territories occur primarily in wooded areas. Fighting between males is done with horns. Males feel out each others' horns, and then push with all their might.
The diet of elands consist of grasses, herbs, tree leaves, bushes, and succulent fruits. They generally forage in open areas. Water is consumed voraciously when available, but elands can abstain from drinking in dry seasons.
Elands provide large amount of tender meat, as well as high-quality hides. There has been efforts to domesticate them for both their meat and their milk, which has much higher protein content and milkfat than the milk of cows. To date, only one of these domestication attempts has been successful.
Although elands are massive, they are excellent jumpers and can clear heights of 1.5 meters.