This Waterbuck bull, Kobus elisipytmnus, was photographed in the Woodstock botanical area of Kaingo Game Reserve. He is a mature male with a territory of about 89 ha in size. Waterbuck bulls can attain a weight of about 270kg and their horns may measure up to 97cm. This bull clearly has some growing to do!
Fascinating to note that the coarse hair on a waterbuck is oval. At about 41mm long, it covers the body effectively for those cold winter mornings. They have a very strong goat-like smell, presumably to ward off possible attack by predators. The ring around the rump is a clear ‘follow me’ sign to keep the herd together.
Waterbuck bulls are loners, until a female (cow) in oestrus shows up. He will then court her by laying his head on her rump, rubbing his horns against her flanks and relentlessly following her. When she does relent, mating will commence.
As the name suggests, waterbuck prefer living near water. They are ruffage feeders, and prefer highly nutritious grass such as Blue Buffalo grass (Panicum maximum). They are easily displaced from their prime territories by Nyala, Tragelaphus angassi, even though there is a great size difference between them; the waterbuck being larger.
Waterbuck tend to live in small herds of up to 20 animals. Bulls have a territory, cows and calves will live in nursery herds, and young bulls will be found in marginal territories or in bachelor groups. Bulls will only become physically strong enough to control a territory when they reach an age of five to six years. They have a lifespan of around 17 years.
When walking the bush on Kaingo Game Reserve, keep a nose out for these antelope. You may just smell them before you see them!