Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus)


Family:                    Bovidae.

Status:                     No special status.

Size:                        Length 4 to 7 ft.; 3 to 4 ft in height; 390 to 550 lbs.

Diet:                        Herbivore.

Characteristics:        Social.

Area:                       Africa.

Offspring:                One (twins are rare) per year.

Predators:               Lion, hyena, leopard, crocodile, cheetah.



·       The waterbuck was first described in 1833 by Ogilby.

·       The waterbuck is classified as a low risk, conservation dependent species by the IUCN.

·       Waterbucks lie flat on the ground to escape detection when danger is near.

·       They’re good swimmers and sometimes avoid predators by swimming away.



Waterbucks live in large herds consisting of a dominant male, one or more subordinate males and up to as many as 70 females and juveniles. Only the males have horns—long, thick, slightly curved horns with sharp points at the end and up to 40 rings, or ridges all along them. The horns grow as the waterbuck ages—unlike antlers, they’re not replaced every year, so the age of a male can be determined by the size of his horns. Waterbucks have shaggy, reddish brown fur and a white ring or patch on their buttocks, as well as white fur surrounding their black noses. Predators only go after waterbucks when there is nothing else available, due to their musky odour. The smell comes from glands that waterproof their fur as well as work as a bug-repellent. Waterbucks eat mostly grass, but supplement their diets with leaves. Although waterbucks are mostly active by day, they have become nocturnal in areas where they’re hunted by humans.



Waterbucks are found south of the Sahara, throughout southeast Africa, including Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Waterbuck need water on a daily basis, and inhabit grassland with a fresh water source nearby.



Waterbucks breed throughout the year. Females can begin mating at the age of three, and following mating, undergo a nine-month pregnancy. Just before her time, the female separates from the rest of the herd and finds a well-hidden spot where she feels safe enough to give birth. The newborn is able to stand within an hour, and for his first two to four weeks, remains hidden while his mother grazes nearby, returning frequently to nurse. The mother mates again within two to five weeks of giving birth, and this high population rate is one of the reasons waterbucks are not endangered, despite the encroachment on their land and the high numbers killed by hunters. By the time the calf is one month, he’s able to keep up with the herd and no longer needs to remain hidden, but eats grass alongside his mother. The calf continues to nurse until he’s six to nine months of age. By nine months, young males begin to show the first signs of horns and drift off to go and join bachelor herds, until they’re old enough to establish their own territory and mate. Waterbucks have lived up to 18 years in captivity.