It is dark brown to black in colour. It has a black beard that extends along the lower jaw and a cream-coloured mane with black tips. Both males and females have horns, the bulky bases of which almost meet on the crown. They are curved down and forwards, and with their tips almost perpendicularly curving upwards.
This species is sedentary and forms herds of 20-30 animals. The juveniles and adult males that do not have a territory make up their own herds. Previously, the main threat to this species was hunting, the loss of habitat and periodic outbreaks of disease.However, now that the species has recovered, the only significant threat is the problem of hybridization with the common gnu.