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Photo: Mystical Eland

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Kariega Group of Elands

Thank you to guest Simon Parker for this stunning photo of a herd of eland at Kariega Game Reserve. The image beautifully captures and portrays the mysticism that surrounds this enormous antelope that is scared to the ancient San tribes of Southern Africa.

Eland are a Large and Powerful Antelope

The eland is an incredibly large and powerful animal. It is the biggest species of antelope found in southern Africa. A fully grown adult can stand as high as two meters and weigh as much as 700kg. From the stationary position they can jump to a height of 8 feet and it has been suggested that, if motivated, they can push over trees to get to the green shoots on the top branches!

San Rock Art Depicts Eland as Sacred Animals

It has been discovered that the rock art of the San tribes, most of which includes images of eland, does not depict everyday life but rather deeper religious and sacred ceremonies. When the shamanic medicine men of these tribes painted eland onto rock faces they believed they were opening up a portal to the spirit world and the spirit of the eland would transport them there. The eland is considered their most spiritual animal and it appears in four important rituals: a boys' first kill; a girls' transition into puberty; marriage and the trance dance where the shamans communicate with the spirit world. Many of the dances at these rituals imitate the behavior and appearance of this sacred antelope.

Did you know that the eland was a sacred animal to the San? Did you see this mystical antelope on your safari? Tell us your story and share you photos on Facebook.