The bushbuck is a close relative of the kudu and nyala, and it is a rather large antelope with geometrically shaped white spots on its ears, chin, tail, legs, and neck.
Females are usually a lighter brown than males. The male bushbuck has a dark chestnut coat marked with white spots and stripes. The female is lighter in colour and vaguely resembles a large duiker.
Male bushbucks are bigger than females and have horns, which usually spiral once and are fairly straight, parallel to one another, and up to a half meter long.
It relies on vegetation to hide from predators and can live in most of sub-Saharan Africa. Although secretive and elusive, the bushbuck is very common in suitable habitats in most forests and national parks in Uganda.
Bushbuck is the least social of the African antelopes and is often solitary, although sometimes females and their young can be in small groups. This antelope is not territorial, and except for disputes over estrus females, it’s not aggressive toward other antelopes of its kind.
So in areas with suitable quality habitats, several animals may be nearby. Therefore the traditional designation of bushbuck as “solitary” is somewhat misleading.
Bushbuck are mainly nocturnal, although they may also be active at dusk or dawn. The daytime is spent concealed from predators (which include virtually all carnivores their size or larger) in dense, bushy cover near rivers. They come out at night to feed in more open areas but never venture far from cover. They are skilful swimmers.
For feeding, these herbivores are browsers; they eat herbs and the leaves, twigs, and flowers of many plant species.
Although they will eat a wide variety of plant species when hungry, they are somewhat selective when possible, preferring knobbly creeper and sausage tree. They will also occasionally eat fresh grass.
The young are born at any time of year, but in arid regions, there is a peak in birth rates during the rainy season. Gestation requires only 180 days, allowing a female to produce more than one calf per year.
The calf does not follow its mother out into the open to forage until it is four months old. It remains hidden in the dense underbrush in the meantime, and its mother returns periodically to nurse the calf.
Bushbucks reach sexual maturity at one year, but males’ horns do not get full size until three.