The Wapiti (Cervus canadensis) is also called a Canadian Elk. It is one of the largest species in the deer family in the world. The term Wapiti is from the Shawnee and Cree word meaning ‘white rump.’
The Wapiti is an ungulate because it has hooves, similar to camel, goat, or cattle. Only the male has antlers, which are made of bone, and are covered with a soft layer of skin, called velvet. Velvet is shed in summer. The Wapiti can have various colours of brown, grey, or reddish fur, which grows thicker in winter to keep it warm. It has a small white rump patch, with a short tail.
It grows to 1.3-1.5 metres (50-60 inches) tall. Antlers can grow to 1.2 metres (45 inches) long.
It is a ruminant and is primarily a grazer, with a four-chambered stomach, feeding on grass, plants, and leaves.
It prefers woods and forests.
The Wapiti live in single-sex groups within a herd of about 400 individuals.
Male Wapiti make a sound, called bugling, to attract female Wapiti. A female is attracted to the male that makes the loudest noise.
Females are pregnant for 240-262 days, before giving birth to one young, called a calf. Calves are born spotted, and they lose their spots by the end of summer.
The Wapiti lives for about 20 years or more in captivity but averages 10-13 years in the wild.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM