Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Common Waterbuck - Game Haven and Majete Game Parks, Malawi

Every week, I am trying to bring you a different antelope that I saw on safari and this week it is the turn of the beautiful Common Waterbuck.  Some of the shots were taken at Game Haven and others were taken at Majete, both games parks at in Malawi.

The Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) is a large antelope found widely in sub-Saharan Africa. It is placed in the genus Kobus of the family Bovidae. It was first described by Irish naturalist William Ogilby in 1833. The thirteen subspecies are grouped under two varieties: the Common or Ellipsen Waterbuck and the Defassa Waterbuck.

The head-and-body length is typically between 70–93 in and the average height is between 47 and 54 in.  A sexually dimorphic antelope, males are taller as well as heavier than females.  Males typically weigh 437–578 lb and females 355–472 lb.  The coat colour varies from brown to grey. The long, spiral horns, present only on males, curve backward, then forward and are 22–39 in long.

The Waterbuck is of a robust build. The shaggy coat is reddish brown to grey, and becomes progressively darker with age. Males are darker than females. Though apparently thick, the hair is sparse on the coat.  The hair on the neck is, however, long and shaggy. When sexually excited, the skin of the Waterbuck secretes a greasy substance with the odour of musk, giving it the name "greasy kob".  This secretion also assists in water-proofing the body when the animal dives into water.  

The facial features include a white muzzle and light eyebrows and lighter insides of the ears. There is a cream-coloured patch (called "bib") on the throat. Waterbuck are characterised by a long neck and short, strong and black legs.

The principal differentiation between the two types is the white ring of hair surrounding the tail on the rump, which is a hollow circle in the Common Waterbuck but covered with white hair in the Defassa Waterbuck.  It is known as the 'toilet seat' antelope and  that made it easy for me to ID!!

Waterbuck are slower than other antelopes in terms of the rate of maturity. While males become sexually mature at the age of six years, females reach maturity within two to three years.  Females may conceive by the age of two-and-a-half years, and remain reproductive for another ten years.  

In equatorial regions, breeding takes place throughout the year, and births are at their peak in the rainy season.  However, breeding is seasonal in the Sudan (south of Sahara), with the mating season lasting four months.  The season extends for even longer periods in some areas of southern Africa. Oestrus lasts for a day or less.

Mating begins after the male confirms that the female is in oestrus, which he does by sniffing her vulva and urine. A resistive female would try to bite or even fight off an advancing male. The male exhibits flehmen, and often licks the neck of the female and rubs his face and the base of his horns against her back. There are several attempts at mounting before the actual copulation. The female shifts her tail to one side, while the male clasps her sides with his forelegs and rests on her back during copulation, which may occur as many as ten times.

The gestational period lasts for seven to eight months, followed by the birth of a single calf. Twins are rare. Pregnant females isolate themselves and into thickets as parturition approaches. 

Newborn calves can stand on their feet within half-an-hour of birth.  The mother eats the afterbirth. She communicates with the calf by bleating or snorting. Calves are kept hidden for two to three weeks or even two months. 

At about three to four weeks, the calf begins following its mother, who signals it to do so by raising her tail. Though bereft of horns, mothers will fiercely defend their offspring from predators.

Calves are weaned at eight months, following which time they join groups of calves of their own age.  Young females remain with their mothers in nursery herds, or may also join bachelor herds.

The Waterbuck lives to 18 years in the wild and 30 years in captivity.

I hope you enjoyed this post about the Common Waterbuck.

Thanks for visiting.

Many thanks for  leaving your kind comments on my post


  1. That was lot of information. Great pics, they are gorgeous creatures.

  2. These are such pretty antelope. The baby looks very cow-like. What a great adventure you had! Wendy x

  3. What an awesome find. Great photographs too!

    Mersad Donko Photography

  4. wonderful shots, nothing common about these lovely animals.

  5. What beautiful shots you got of this gorgeous Waterbuck. Love that target on the rear. You could certainly see that running away. You have had such wonderful shots from your trip. ONe you will never forget I am sure.

  6. they're truly beautiful. thanks for sharing them!

  7. Beautiful antelope, both male and female!

  8. What a name! But I can indeed see the white ring around his backside! An easy I.D. for sure! I love those beautiful horns! And in the first few pictures, he looks like he is looking at you and having a nice chat! Maybe he was telling you to make him look handsome!. I assume you had a LONG zoom?

  9. What a glorious beast - and what a privilege to see. Thank you for sharing the magic.

  10. Oh, oh Margaret these animals are beautiful.
    I'm so glad that I can watch them.
    Beautiful photos.
    Greetings from Polish.

  11. They are beautiful animals, the male is awesome with those spiral horns.. Great shots.

  12. Superb images the Waterbuck, you caught number 1 so perfect.

  13. Wow what a post Margaret.
    I saw this species while in Kruger park last year, always tickled me the target on the rear......

    A lovely creature.

  14. What handsome fellow. Love the "ring around the rump."

  15. What an interesting post. My husband kept peeking over my shoulder trying to figure out where the post came from! I explained a blogger I follow who lives in Ireland and visited her family in Africa this summer.