|Male ellipsen waterbuck|
|Female and calf ellipsen waterbuck|
Waterbuck stand 120 to 136 cm (47 to 54 in) at the shoulder. Head-and-body length ranges from 140 to 240 cm (55 to 94 in) and tail length from 10 to 45 cm (3.9 to 18 in). Males weigh 200–300 kg (440–660 lb) and females 160–200 kg (350–440 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 glands produce 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 is safe to eat. The long, spiral-structured horns, found only in males, sweep back and up.
Waterbuck are found in scrub and savanna areas near water, where they eat grasses. Despite their name, waterbuck do not spend much time in the water, but will take refuge there to escape predators. They are diurnal. Females gather in herds of between two and 600 individuals. Males keep territories of around 300 acres (1.2 km²) during their prime. They usually lose their territories before the age of 10.
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 Gregory Rift, ranging from Ethiopia west to Senegal and south to Zambia. The second is the ellipsen waterbuck, which has a white, ellipse-shaped ring on the rump that extends above the tail. It is found in southeast Africa, ranging from southern Somalia to KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) and inland to the Gregory Rift and Botswana. Some authorities accept only these two as valid subspecies, with the trinomial 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 to thikae), while the defassa waterbuck includes the remainder:
- 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
Kobus (New Latin) is from koba, an African name. The species name ellipsiprymnus refers to the white ring on the rump. Ellipes from Greek means wanting, defective: an ellipse is a shape deviating from a circle; prumnos (Greek) means the hind part.
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- Cited works
- IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group (2008). "Kobus ellipsiprymnus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2011-06-15. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as Least concern
- Kingdon, Jonathan (1997). The Kingdon Field Guide to African Mammals. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-408355-2.
- Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M., eds. (2005). Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Haltenorth, Theodor; Diller, Helmut (1980). Collins Field Guide to Mammals of Africa including Madagascar. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-00-219778-2.
- Further reading
- "AWF: Wildlife: Waterbuck". awf.org. African Wildlife Foundation.
- "ADW: Kobus ellipsiprymnus: Information". animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu. Animal Diversity.