Waterbuck

Kobus ellipsiprymnus

TAXONOMY

Antilope ellipsiprymnus (Ogilby, 1833), Molopo River, Lataku, Namibia.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Common waterbuck, defassa waterbuck; French: Cobe a croissant, cobe defassa; German: Ellipsenwasserbock, Defassa Wasserbock; Spanish: Antilope aquatico.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Body length 6-7.3 ft (180-220 cm); shoulder height 3.3-4.3 ft (100-130 cm);tail 8.8-18 in (22-45 cm); males 470-680 lb (217-308 kg), females 350-400 lb (158-181 kg). Horns 1.6-3.3 ft (55-100 cm). Long, shaggy brown-gray coat with conspicuous white ring encircling rump.

DISTRIBUTION

The ellipsiprymnus group (white ring on rump): eastern Africa from southern Somalia south through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, eastern and southern Zambia, and Zimbabwe, to extreme southeast Namibia (Caprivi), southern Botswana, central Mozambique, and extreme northeastern South Africa (Zululand); defassa group: Senegal east to Ethiopia and south to Angola, east and southeast Democratic Republic of the Congo, and most of Zambia; hybrids with ellipsiprymnus group occur in areas of overlap.

HABITAT

Always associated with water; principally in grassland habitats, especially floodplains, small drainage systems, and valleys; also rocky hills, savanna, scrub, and woodland.

BEHAVIOR

Groups of up to 30 females and young wander over a home range of 494-1,483 acres (200-600 ha), which encompasses several male territories. At 5-7 years, males become territorial, staking out areas of 150-625 acres (61-253 ha). About 5-10% of mature males are territorial.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

A grazer, eating protein-rich medium and short grasses; sometimes feeds in water. Also eats foliage, reeds, and herbs when green grass is unavailable. Requires permanent access to water.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygynous. Breeds throughout the year. Gestation period 8.5-9 months; weaned at 6-7 months; females sexually mature at 12-14 months, males at 14-18 months. Lifespan 18 years.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Both races are Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent. Populations are apparently decreasing due to poaching and human encroachment along riverine habitat, and protected areas are important for the species' survival.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Hunted for sport, creating a strong motive to provide effective protection and management. Waterbuck have a high exhibit value in zoo collections. ♦

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