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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Sitatunga

   

Introduction: Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekei) are an elusive, semi-aquatic antelope that spend the greater part of their lives in dense papyrus and reed beds in swamp areas in water up to about 1m deep. They are active most times of the day, except during the hottest hours and are also mobile at night, moving out from swampland onto dry fringing woodland. These factors make them very difficult to observe, as well as owing to the dense mass of reeds which may grow up to 5m above the level of the water. The hooves are a characteristic feature of the adult male of the species and they reach a length of 18cm on the front feet and 16cm on the hind. The shape and size of the feet enable them to hold on to the muddy underbelly of the swamp, as they would otherwise slip into the deeper waters of hippo paths where crocodiles lie in wait.

They occur in small herds of 6 and on being disturbed reform into more closely knit units as they bound off to safety. They are prone to fall prey to lion and leopard. Sitatunga bark, especially at night, reminiscent of that of the bushbuck.

Distribution: Along the banks of the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers in the Caprivi Strip and around Impalila Island.

Diet: Feeds on aquatic vegetation as well as on grass and leaves.

Coloring: Adult males are dark drab brown, (with no body stripes as with the East African species). Their hair is long, coarse and shaggy. Females are the same colour or slightly redder.

Breeding: Females may calve at any time of the year, and mothers have been observed concealing their young on platforms deep in the swamp or in the high grass on the islands.

Size: Sitatunga stand around 90cm at the shoulder and weigh up to 115kg. Females are distinctly smaller than the males. The horns are around 60cm but are only on the males.

   
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