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Young red lechwe.jpg
Juvenile red lechwe in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Genus: Kobus
Species: K. leche
Binomial name
Kobus leche
Gray, 1850

Kobus leche leche
Kobus leche kafuensis
Kobus leche robertsi
Kobus leche smithemani
Kobus leche venterae

The lechwe, or southern lechwe, (Kobus leche) is an antelope found in Botswana, Zambia, southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, northeastern Namibia, and eastern Angola, especially in the Okavango Delta, Kafue Flats and Bangweulu Swamps. Lechwe stand 90 to 100 cm (35 to 39 in) at the shoulder and weigh from 70 to 120 kg (150 to 260 lb). They are golden brown with white bellies. Males are darker in colour, but general hue varies depending on subspecies. The long, spiral-structured horns are vaguely lyre-shaped, they are found only in males. The hindlegs are somewhat longer in proportion than in other antelopes, to ease long-distance running in marshy soil. Lechwe are found in marshy areas where they eat aquatic plants. They use the knee-deep water as protection from predators. Their legs are covered in a water-repellant substance which allows them to run quite fast in knee-deep water. Lechwe are diurnal. They gather in herds which can include many thousands of individuals. Herds are usually all of one sex, but during mating season they mix.



Four subspecies of the lechwe have been recognized.[2][3]

  • Red lechwe (K. l. leche) (Gray, 1850) - Widely distributed in the wetlands of Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia.
  • Kafue Flats lechwe (K. l. kafuensis) (Haltenorth, 1963) - It is confined within the Kafue Flats (seasonally inundated flood-plain on the Kafue River, Zambia).
  • Roberts' lechwe (K. l. robertsi) (Rothschild, 1907) - Formerly found in northeastern Zambia, now rare.
  • Black lechwe (K. l. smithemani) (Lydekker, 1900) - Found in the Bangweulu region of Zambia.


  1. ^ IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). Kobus leche. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 10 May 2006. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.
  2. ^ Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 720. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  3. ^ Groves, C.; Grubb, P. (2011). Ungulate Taxonomy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 190–1. ISBN 1-4214-0093-6. 

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