Scientific Name

Hippotragus equinus

Species Survival Plan



Lightly wooded country and grasslands


Lion, leopard, spotted hyena and Cape hunting dog


Medium-high grasses and rarely leaves

Originally Native To

Central and southern Africa


54 - 64 inches at shoulders


495 - 660 lb.


Upper parts are roan colored, lower parts are white, facial mask; horns found in both sexes

Gestation Period

9 - 9.5 months


1 calf

Birth Season

Any month


Wild ?
Captivity 17 years

Social Behavior

Harem groups, single dominant male, 6 - 15 animals


About Roan

Roan, one of the largest antelope species in Africa, are usually active in the morning and evening. The roan is associated with woodland savannas, but is less of a woodland dweller and more of a grassland species.

In the wild, roan do not like variety in their diet. Roan antelope prefer to graze on grass but will occasionally also feed on shrubs, herbs, and Acacia tree pods. They must drink regularly and inhabit areas where water is easily accessible.

Like most horse antelope, they are gregarious and territorial. Females occupy a home range encompassing the territories of several males.

Immature males associate in bachelor herds. Herd sizes are smaller for roan than similar antelope, and they maintain a greater individual distance apart.

A female dominance hierarchy, with the oldest cows holding the highest ranks, is maintained by frequent, low-intensity aggression. Occasionally, young animals will form groups that can stay separated from groups of older animals, including their mothers, for hours or even days at a time.

Like most Fossil Rim antelope species, roan mothers will hide their calves in the first few weeks after birth. According to staff, roan calves are some of the most difficult to find. Usually, a staff member must watch the mother go to her calf in order to know where it is. Then, after she returns to the herd, the staff can go over to quickly check on it during a neonate exam.

This suggests that bonds between calves may be stronger than the mother/offspring bond. Immature males are tolerated by the females until they are 2-2.5 years old.

Roan can have violent tempers. While they do not have fixed territories, a dominant male will exclude others from a 500-mile radius around its herd, consisting of 6-20 females and young.

When two adult males encounter each other, it is common for them to fight for dominance of their herd. They brandish their horns, run forward, and drop to their knees while clashing their large horns together. Renowned for their strength and aggressive defense of their herds and calves, roan in the wild will even take on lions.

A male roan has a darker black-and-white facemask than a female. Both sexes have backward-curving horns, although they are shorter in the females.

Roan have a very high-pitched vocalization, even as adults.

There is a genus of antelope, Hippotragus, which includes three species – roan, sable, and bluebuck. Sable also live at Fossil Rim, but in a different pasture. Believed to have gone extinct in 1800, the bluebuck is the first historically recorded large African mammal to become extinct.

At Fossil Rim, roan live in the Front Pasture - the first pasture that guests enter. In 2021, a second roan herd began in the Game Preserve - the fourth pasture that guests enter.


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As a private nonprofit corporation, Fossil Rim does not receive national or state government support. Every cent spent or donated here goes in some way, directly or indirectly, toward the care of our animals.