Species Survival Plan
Savannah with trees and shrub thickets in the proximity of perennial water
Spotted hyena, lion, leopard, wild dog and crocodile
Grasses, herbs and foliage
Originally Native To
Savannah regions of Africa, south of the Sahara
48 inches at shoulders
Male - 500 lb.
Female - 410 lb.
Male horns up to 24 inches and curving forward; white ring on rump
8 - 8.5 months
Wild 14 years
Captivity 18 years
Territorial mates, nursery herds and bachelor herds
Waterbuck are found in southeastern, central and western Africa. When exposed to a high level of human activity, they will become almost completely nocturnal, only entering grazing areas after sunset. This is a good example of how man not only affects the habitat of animals, but can also alter their normal behavior on a daily basis.
The color of waterbuck varies from grizzled gray to red-brown. They have white hair on ear linings, eyebrows, snout and a white ring on their rump. Only males have the impressive forward-curving horns.
Oil glands located in the animal’s skin secrete an oily substance, which is responsible for their musky odor, and has a waterproofing and insect-repelling function. This created the myth that lions and other predators do not hunt and eat this species. They do, but not if there is other prey available.
Females with a common home range associate casually in small herds of 5-10 animals. Young males form bachelor herds when their horns emerge at 8-9 months. The position of a bull in the male hierarchy is demonstrated by the amount of riverfront territory he controls.
Bachelor herds often stay near female herds. Some territorial males tolerate adult males on their property, as long as they behave submissively.
These males help repel other male intruders, sneak occasional mating opportunities and have a good chance of inheriting the territory. Serious fighting is more common with waterbuck than other ungulates and can lead to the death of combatants.
Waterbuck must drink daily and always have a water source within their territory. They are good swimmers and readily wade into water and can, if needed, seek refuge from predators in deeper water.
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