is a large antelope
Antelope is a term referring to many even-toed ungulate species indigenous to various regions in Africa and Eurasia. Antelopes comprise a miscellaneous group within the family Bovidae, encompassing those old-world species that are neither cattle, sheep, buffalo, bison, nor goats...
found widely in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...
Waterbuck stand 120 to 136 cm (47.2 to 53.5 in) at the shoulder. Males weigh 200–300 kg (440.9–661.4 lb) and females 160–200 kg (352.7–440.9 lb). Their coats are reddish brown in colour and become progressively darker with age; they have a white 'bib' under their throats and white on their rumps. The waterproofing secretions of the waterbuck's sweat gland
Sweat glands, or sudoriferous glands, are small tubular structures of the skin that produce sweat. There are two kinds of sweat glands:...
s produces an unpleasant odor in its meat, unless the animal is skinned carefully. According to African myth the meat of the waterbuck is not edible, but this is untrue—whilst not especially tasty, waterbuck venison
Venison is the meat of a game animal, especially a deer but also other animals such as antelope, wild boar, etc.-Etymology:The word derives from the Latin vēnor...
is safe to eat. The long spiral structured horn
A horn is a pointed projection of the skin on the head of various animals, consisting of a covering of horn surrounding a core of living bone. True horns are found mainly among the ruminant artiodactyls, in the families Antilocapridae and Bovidae...
s, found only in males, sweep back and up.
Waterbuck are found in scrub and savanna
A savanna, or savannah, is a grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of C4 grasses.Some...
areas near water where they eat grass
Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...
. Despite its name, the waterbuck does not spend much time in the water, but will take refuge there to escape predators. Waterbuck are diurnal
Diurnality is a plant or animal behavior characterized by activity during the day and sleeping at night.-In animals:Animals that are not diurnal might be nocturnal or crepuscular . Many animal species are diurnal, including many mammals, insects, reptiles and birds...
. Females gather in herd
Herd refers to a social grouping of certain animals of the same species, either wild or domestic, and also to the form of collective animal behavior associated with this or as a verb, to herd, to its control by another species such as humans or dogs.The term herd is generally applied to mammals,...
s of between two and six hundred individuals. Males keep territories of around three hundred acre
The acre is a unit of area in a number of different systems, including the imperial and U.S. customary systems. The most commonly used acres today are the international acre and, in the United States, the survey acre. The most common use of the acre is to measure tracts of land.The acre is related...
s (1.2 km²) during their prime. They usually lose their territories before the age of ten.
The Waterbuck occurs in two main groups, which formerly have been treated as separate species, but they interbreed where their ranges come into contact. The first group is the Defassa Waterbuck
with a white rump patch. It is found west of the Great Rift Valley
The Great Rift Valley is a name given in the late 19th century by British explorer John Walter Gregory to the continuous geographic trench, approximately in length, that runs from northern Syria in Southwest Asia to central Mozambique in South East Africa...
, ranging from Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...
west to Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...
and south to Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....
. The second is the Ellipsen Waterbuck
, which has a white ring on the rump that extends above the tail. It is found in south-east Africa, ranging from southern Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...
to South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...
and inland to the Great Rift Valley. Some authorities accept only these two as valid subspecies, with the trinomial
In biology, trinomial nomenclature refers to names for taxa below the rank of species. This is different for animals and plants:* for animals see trinomen. There is only one rank allowed below the rank of species: subspecies....
K. e. defassa
for the Defassa Waterbuck and K. e. ellipsiprymnus
for the Ellipsen Waterbuck. Others treat the Defassa and Ellipsen Waterbucks as subspecies groups, with as many as 13 separate subspecies in total, among others based on differences in overall colour. In that case, the Ellipsen Waterbuck includes the first four subspecies in the following list (ellipsiprymnus
), while the Defassa Waterbuck includes the remaining:
- K. e. ellipsiprymnus (Ellipsen Waterbuck) group:
- K. e. ellipsiprymnus Ogilby, 1833
- K. e. kondensis Matschie, 1911
- K. e. pallidus Matschie, 1911
- K. e. thikae Matschie, 1910
- K. e. defassa (Defassa Waterbuck) group:
- K. e. adolfifriderici Matschie, 1910.
- K. e. annectens Schwarz, 1913
- K. e. crawshayi P. L. Sclater, 1894
- K. e. defassa Rüppell, 1835
- K. e. harnieri Murie, 1867.
- K. e. penricei W. Rothschild, 1895
- K. e. tjaederi Lönnberg, 1907
- K. e. tschadensis Schwarz, 1913
- K. e. unctuosus Laurillard, 1842