Some illegal hunting goes on but the population trend is fairly stable and some populations are in national parks or on private land.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists both as least-concern species. Wildebeest is Dutch for "wild beast" or "wild cattle" in Afrikaans (bees "cattle"), while Connochaetes derives from the Greek words κόννος, kónnos, "beard", and χαίτη, khaítē, "flowing hair", "mane".
Connochaetes includes two species, both native to Africa: the black wildebeest, or white-tailed gnu (C.
gnou); and the blue wildebeest, or brindled gnu (C. Fossil records suggest these two species diverged about one million years ago, resulting in a northern and a southern species.
The horns of blue wildebeest protrude to the side then curve downwards before curving up back towards the skull, while the horns of the black wildebeest curve forward then downward before curving upwards at the tips.
Blue wildebeest tend to be a dark grey color with stripes, but may have a bluish sheen.
Its historical range included South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho, but in the latter two countries it was hunted to extinction in the 19th century.
It has now been reintroduced to them and also introduced to Namibia where it has become well established.
The blue wildebeest is the bigger of the two species.The black wildebeest has brown-coloured hair, with a mane that ranges in color from cream to black, and a cream-coloured tail.The blue wildebeest lives in a wide variety of habitats, including woodlands and grasslands, while the black wildebeest tends to reside exclusively in open grassland areas.Nevertheless, some fall prey to large carnivores, especially the spotted hyena.Wildebeest often graze in mixed herds with zebra which gives heightened awareness of potential predators.The wildebeest, or the genus Connochaetes, is placed under the family Bovidae and subfamily Alcelaphinae, where its closest relatives are the hartebeest (Alcelaphus spp.), the hirola (Beatragus hunteri) and species in the genus Damaliscus, such as the topi, the tsessebe, the blesbok and the bontebok.