What are the different kinds of antelopes that live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
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!
10 Antelopes Found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
- Aepyceros melampus
- Adults are 70–92 cm (28–36 in) tall at the shoulder.
- Males have thin, ridged, s-shaped horns that are 45–92 cm (18–36 in) tall.
- They have reddish-brown hair on the upper parts of their bodies, and the undersides of their bellies, chins, lips, inside ears, the line over the eye, and tails are white.
Look for these well-known antelopes in the grasslands and savannas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
While Impala are predominantly grazers, especially when the grass is lush and abundant, they switch to shrubs, trees, and other plants as needed. They’re ruminants, meaning that they have multi-chambered stomachs and regurgitate and chew their food, called cud, multiple times to get the most nutrients possible.
Impalas share their grassland and woodland habitats with many large, capable predators, so they have to stay alert and ready to make a quick escape! When they sense danger, Impalas leap in a random direction and then run quickly to startle their enemies.
They’re incredibly athletic and may jump up to 3.5 m (10 ft) in the air! To avoid being grabbed, Impalas often kick their back feet up as they land on just their front legs.
Calves are the most susceptible to predation, harsh weather conditions, and illness. Thankfully female Impalas have some incredible strategies to care for their young. For example, they’re able to delay giving birth for up to one month if weather conditions are harsh. They also typically give birth around mid-day when most predators are sleeping.
#2. Greater Kudu
- Tragelaphus strepsiceros
- Adults stand up to 160 cm (63 in) tall at the shoulder.
- Their coloring ranges from reddish-brown to blue-gray, with 6 to 10 stripes down their back and black-tipped tails with white undersides.
- Males have beards and large horns with two and a half twists that can grow as long as 120 cm (47 in).
This species is one of the biggest antelopes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo!
Greater Kudus are tall and large with impressive horns. These graceful creatures can clear obstacles up to 2.5 m (8 ft) tall with ease and run up to 100 kph (62 mph).
Greater Kudus are social and surprisingly vocal animals. You may hear them make whimpers, bleats, barks, grunts, and hums. The females stay together in groups of up to 25 with their offspring, and the males gather in small herds of 2-10. Males and females only come together to mate.
The map above shows the ranges of the different Greater Kudu subspecies.
The females give birth during the rainy season when the grass is high, which is essential for keeping the calves hidden from predators. For the first four weeks of their lives, the calves remain hidden before they can join the herd. During this time, their mother will only visit to nurse them to avoid attracting attention from predators.
You can find these incredible creatures in various habitats that provide them with brush and thick cover. Greater Kudus are opportunistic herbivores and consume grass, leaves, herbs, vines, fruits, and flowers.
- 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo 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.
#4. 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo!
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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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.
#6. 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo 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.
- Damaliscus lunatus
- Adults are 100 to 130 cm (39 to 51 in) at the shoulder.
- They have glossy, tan coats with grayish or bluish-black markings on their upper legs, black faces and tail tufts, and light undersides.
- Both sexes have ringed, s-shaped horns, but they are typically slightly larger in males. They range in size from 37-40 cm (15-16 in) long.
Tsessebes are one of the most territorial antelope species in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Their territories are taken seriously by other Tsessebe herds, to the point that traveling herds will go to great lengths to avoid them. They will move around the outskirts of another herd’s territory, occasionally risking entering neutral areas with lions and other predators!
Tsessebe Range Map
The map above shows the ranges of the different Tsessebe subspecies.
All of the Tsessebes’ territories have high vantage points, which allow females to alert others of danger and males to display their territory. They prefer grassland habitats, including open plains and lightly wooded savannas. As their habitat suggests, they feed primarily on grass.
During the rainy season, when the grass is fresh and wet, they get all their water needs from their food, but during dry periods, they need fresh water every day or two. Tsessebes are most active in the morning and evening and spend the hotter parts of the day watering, resting, and digesting their food.
#9. 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo!
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.
- Tragelaphus spekii
- Adult males are 81–116 cm (32–46 in) tall at the shoulder, while females reach 72–90 cm (28–35 in) tall.
- Males are chocolate to gray-brown and have spiral-shaped horns that are 45–92 cm (18–36 in) long.
- Females are brown to bright chestnut.
- They have long coats and white markings on the face, ears, body, legs, and feet.
These antelopes have an unusual habitat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – swampland!
Sitatunga have a few special adaptations that allow them to walk on boggy, marshy ground easily. Their feet are elongated with a wide splay and pad-like pattern. They also have unique flexibility in their foot joints, which helps keep them from getting stuck in the mud.
Sitatungas avoid areas of open water, instead preferring tall, dense vegetation like seasonal swamps, mangroves, and thickets. These habitats provide shelter from predators as well as the Sitatunga’s two favorite foods, papyrus and reed shoots. Oddly, when food is scarce, these antelope will eat elephant dung, which often has undigested seeds!
This species’ social structure varies. You may spot them on their own, in male and female pairs, in bachelor male groups of three or four, or in family groups of up to 15 animals, including females, young, and a dominant bull.
Check out these other guides about animals found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo!
Which of these antelopes have you seen before in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
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