The Giant eland has two sub-species with differing distributions and conservation status (IUCN 1996, 2009).
The Eastern giant eland - Taurotragus derbianus gigas (Heuglin, 1863) was formerly found from Nigeria, through Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) to Sudan and Uganda. Now the numbers roughly 14 000 individuals distributed over Cameroon, CAR to Sudan may be confirmed. The population decline is attributed mainly to poaching and the 1982-83 rinderpest epizootic in Central Africa (Bro-Jørgensen 1997). The population in Chad, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo has become extinct (East 1998).
The Eastern giant eland is on the Red list of threatened species with status Least concern (LC) (Antelope Specialist Group 1996, East 1998, IUCN 2009). This classification includes widespread and abundant taxa.
The Western giant eland - Taurotragus derbianus derbianus (Gray, 1847) was in the beginning of this century probably found in Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Togo and Ghana and might never have been widespread in West Africa due to the narrowness of the belt with a suitable rainfall of 1 100 to 1 300 mm (Spinage 1986).
In 1990, Giant elands in Senegal were estimated of about 1000 individuals, of which 700-800 were to be found in the Niokolo Koba National Park (PNNK) and the remainder around the Falémé River (Sournia and Dupuy 1990). The rapid decline is ascribed to heavy poaching.
The population of Giant eland in the PNNK was observed in the framework of aerial and ground based surveys in the park (Dupuy 1970, 1971; Galat et al. 1992; Benoit 1993, Hájek and Verner 2000; Mauvais 2002, Renaud et al. 2006). On the basis of observations and the results of the counts it is estimated that the likely number of Giant eland is presently around 100 – 170 individuals (Galat et al. 1992; Benoit 1993; East 1998, Chardonnet 1999; Hájek and Verner 2000, Renaud et al. 2006) and all of these authors also draw attention to the fact that it is an endangered species or rather one on the edge of extinction. This population is probably the only sure distribution of Western giant eland in the world. It can be stated that no study has been carried out on the western sub-species. It seems the state of the population is critical and requires practical measures leading to the species’ protection. Overall research in their ecology and behaviour in the natural environment and fenced reserves contributes directly to saving the species.
The presence of these antelopes in the surrounding states of Mali, Guinea and Guinea- Bissau was not confirmed at the end of the 90’s (Heringa 1990; Sournia and Dupuy 1990; Sournia et al. 1990; Teleki et al. 1990; Chardonnet and Limoges 1990; Camara 1990; Roth and Hoppe-Dominik 1990; Chardonnet 1999). There were very sporadic records of these antelope in the surrounding states of Mali and Guinea in 2003 (Darroze 2004), in Guinea-Bissau they have not been recently confirmed at all. In 2003 the presence of the Giant eland was confirmed in Mali, but only on the basis of several hides (Darroze 2004). In the others regions is now extinct.
The Western giant eland is on the Red list of threatened species with status Critically Endangered (CR C2a (ii)) (IUCN 2009). This classification include taxa where population is estimated to number less than 250 mature individuals with continuing decline observed, projected, or inferred, in numbers of mature individuals and at least 90% of mature individuals in one subpopulation. Regarding to the fact that no more than 200 individuals of Western giant eland currently dwelling the West African savannah live mainly in the NKNP (Renaud et al. 2006), this classification is fully justified.