What are the different kinds of antelopes that live in Nigeria?
There are an astounding number of separate antelope species found here! These remarkable creatures are very different from each other, each one being uniquely adapted to its specific habitat.
In this article, you’ll find interesting facts, photos, and even range maps so you can learn all about these incredible animals!
6 Antelopes Found in Nigeria:
- Kobus ellipsiprymnus
- Adults are 120-136 cm (47-54 in) tall at the shoulder.
- They have shaggy brown-gray coats, large rounded ears, and white patches above the eyes, on the throat, and around the nose and mouth.
- Males have prominently ringed horns that curve back and up and may reach 55–99 cm (22–39 in) long.
The Waterbuck’s appearance may vary throughout its range. There are 13 recognized subspecies, all with slightly different traits! In general, all waterbucks keep their glossy coats with a unique oily secretion. It makes them smell a bit funny to humans, but the scent helps them to find a mate! The oil secretion also serves to help keep their coat waterproof.
These robust antelopes live in grasslands in Nigeria and are almost always found near water, as their name suggests. Compared to some more migratory antelope species, Waterbucks tend to be rather sedentary, remaining in valleys with rivers and lakes. This is because their diet depends on access to fresh water along with the protein-rich medium and short grasses that grow in moist areas.
Waterbucks are social animals and usually live in herds of up to 30 individuals. Typically, bachelor males form herds together, and females form separate herds comprised of only females and their young.
Once born, mothers leave their calf hidden in the thicket and only visit to nurse. This helps prevent predators from smelling or finding the calf, though mortality is still quite high.
#2. Bush Duiker
- Sylvicapra grimmia
- Adults grow up to 50 cm (20 in) tall.
- They vary in color and may be chestnut, grizzled gray, or light brown, with an erect tuft of hair on the top of their head.
- Males have small, spike-like horns up to 11 cm (4.3 in) long with grooves at the base.
Bush Duikers are the smallest antelopes in Nigeria!
These little animals will adapt to various habitats and live in woodlands, savannas, grasslands, and mountainous areas. They inhabit higher altitudes than any other African ungulate. To help live in these inhospitable conditions, they consume insects and have occasionally been observed stalking and eating birds, rodents, lizards, and frogs.
Bush Duikers are territorial and form monogamous pairs. Both sexes will use threat displays to drive other Duikers of the same sex out of their territory. If these displays fail, battles may ensue! Females will head-butt other females, and males may fight, chase, and stab each other with their horns.
The lifespan of Bush Duikers in the wild is unknown, but they have lived up to 14 years in captivity. This species is listed as one of least concern on the IUCN Red List.
- Alcelaphus buselaphus
- Adults are around 1 m (3.3 ft) tall at the shoulder.
- They have deeply sloping backs, long legs, long, narrow snouts, tufted tails, and large glands below their eyes.
- Their coloring varies and may be pale brown to brownish gray, and both sexes have dark, oddly shaped horns.
Look for these antelopes in grasslands and savannas in Nigeria.
Hartebeests are almost entirely grazers, and their diet is never less than 80% grass. Their odd, long snout may look funny, but it enhances their chewing ability, allowing them to gain more nutrition from poor-quality food.
The map above shows the ranges of the different Hartebeest subspecies.
Hartebeests are usually rather sedentary animals that appear to be relaxing on the plains, but don’t let their casual appearance fool you. They are alert and cautious. Hartebeests always have a sentinel watching for predators. When danger is spotted, the herd will bolt away as a group.
Despite their somewhat awkward appearance, Hartebeests can reach speeds up to 80 kph (50 mph). They also outmaneuver predators by making a quick 90-degree turn as a group.
Although their populations are stable as a whole, some subspecies of Hartebeests are endangered or threatened. They are dependent on conservation efforts to keep their numbers up. Hartebeests are affected by hunting and habitat loss and destruction, primarily related to cattle farming.
#4. Northern Bushbuck
- Tragelaphus scriptus
- Adults are 65-100 cm (26-39 in) tall at the shoulder.
- Adults may be reddish, yellow-brown, or light brown with various white spots and stripes, which vary over their range.
- Adult males have parallel horns which spiral once and are fairly straight.
These antelopes are highly adaptable in Nigeria.
Northern Bushbucks prefer areas with plenty of wooded cover. They spend much of their time on forest edges and in brushy areas near rivers and streams. At night they often head to nearby open areas to feed. Northern Bushbucks are very capable swimmers and will easily cross rivers.
When conditions are good, Northern Bushbucks tend to be selective feeders and show a clear preference for knobbly creeper and sausage trees. That said, they’re excellent survivalists and will browse various plants when necessary, consuming leaves, twigs, flowers, and occasionally some grass.
These small antelopes are a solitary species but aren’t territorial, so sometimes, many animals will live within the same habitat even though they don’t form traditional herds. They’re widespread and plentiful within their range. In fact, unlike many antelopes, they are able to thrive around humans, and in some areas, they are considered a pest.
- Kobus kob
- Adults are 82–100 cm (26-39 in) tall at the shoulder.
- They have short, reddish-brown coats, white throat patches, white underparts, and distinctive black stripe marks on the front of their forelegs.
- Adult males have ringed horns that curve backward and then turn up at the tips.
Look for these antelopes in Nigeria around permanent water sources.
You might spot Kobs grazing in moist savannas, floodplains, and along the edges of woodlands. They feed primarily on grasses and weeds and will migrate great distances along rivers and streams to find food.
About nine months after breeding, females typically give birth to a single calf. The calves remain hidden, with mothers visiting only to suckle them for the first month of their life. This protects them from predators because the adult females draw much more attention than the young. As they get older, the calves form groups, called crèches, and then eventually join the herd at three to four months old.
Kobs are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. However, their populations are declining because of hunting and human development. Their range is greatly reduced from what it was even 100 years ago, and they may become dependent on conservation efforts in the future.
#6. Roan Antelope
- Hippotragus equinus
- Adults are 130–140 cm (51–55 in) at the shoulder.
- They are reddish-brown with lighter undersides, black faces, and white eyebrows, cheeks, and around the nose.
- They have short erect manes, light beards, and red nostrils, and both sexes have ringed horns that sweep backward.
Roan Antelopes are one of the largest in Nigeria!
Look for these large ruminants in lightly wooded savanna with medium or tall grass and access to water. They feed in the morning and evening and retreat to shaded areas in the middle of the day, so you’ll need to rise early to observe them.
Unlike many antelopes, healthy adult Roan Antelopes are formidable opponents to most predators. They don’t flee like many animals. Instead, they face down even the most fearsome predators, like lions. They’re known to gore attacking lions with their long, scimitar-like horns.
These fierce antelopes don’t travel alone either, instead living in mixed herds of about 20 animals, including females, young, and one dominant bull. Less dominant bachelor males tend to form their own groups. Being a herd animal is one more way these antelope discourage attacks.
Roan Antelopes are currently listed as lower risk but conservation dependent by the IUCN. Their populations have rapidly declined in recent years due to hunting and poaching, habitat deterioration and loss, and slaughter as part of tsetse fly control efforts.
Check out these other guides about animals found in Nigeria!
Which of these antelopes have you seen before in Nigeria?
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