Reedbuck is a reddish brown, medium-sized antelope (of the family Bovidae) that inhabits the grasslands and marshes of sub-Saharan Africa. There are three recognised species of reedbuck, but only two occur in Uganda.
Restricted to Kidepo is the mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula), a grey-brown antelope with small crescent-shaped horns and rarely spotted.
The very similar Bohor reedbuck (Redunca redunca) is more widespread, occurring in Uganda’s four savanna national parks, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley and Lake Mburo National Parks.
Both the reedbuck species like hanging out in pairs in open country near water, though the mountain reedbuck prefers the higher altitudes
The bohor reedbuck is a medium-sized, sturdily built antelope with a yellow to greyish-brown coat. Generally, the bohor reedbuck is yellower than other reedbucks. The large and diffuse sebaceous glands on its coat make it greasy and give it a strong odour.
Juveniles are darker and long-haired than adults, and the undersides are white. A few distinct markings can be observed—such as a dark stripe on the front of each foreleg, white markings under the tail, and a pale ring of hair around the eyes and along the lips, lower jaw, and upper throat.
However, the bohor reedbuck lacks dark stripes on its forelegs. You can tell the male bohor from females by their thick necks, and their large, oval-shaped ears and round bare spot below each ear distinguish them from other antelopes. Apart from sebaceous glands, bohor reedbuck have a pair of inguinal glands, vestigial foot glands, and four nipples.
A bohor reedbuck can survive for at least ten years but its listes on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species of least concern. The tracks of the bohor reedbuck are slightly smaller than those of the southern reedbuck.
The southern reedbuck is the largest of the three reedbuck species. The colour in southern reedbucks is highly variable. They can have a light yellowish brown to a grey-brown coat. They have a white underside and chin with light tan streaks on the sides of the head and white rings around the eyes. There are white and black markings on the forelegs. The tail is bushy with a fluffy, white underside.
Only males have horns, which emerge around the sixth month of life. The horns are strongly ridged, growing to be 30 to 45 cm in length, and form a “V”. The horns protrude from the head, point backwards gently, then curve upward and extend out at the tip.
Both males and females have a bare glandular spot below the ears.
Reedbucks are semi-gregarious. When food and water are abundant during the wet season, reedbucks can be found in pairs, in small family groups (male, female, and young), or singly. When food and water become scarce during the winter, it is extremely rare to find a solitary reedbuck.
In pairings, females initiate movements around territories. Though they are more social and may form temporary aggregations during the dry season, they defend their territories during the wet season.
When a male approaches females in another male’s territory, they present an upright posture. Also, a slow and deliberate approach leads to either immediate surrender or attack.
If the other male does not back off, these physical confrontations can lead to head butting and a display of pushing and shoving with the horns. Eventually, one of the males will jump away, and the other will strut and display an upright posture, signifying its dominance.
Territories are not well defined and may overlap, and they mark their territories using inguinal glands to scent a landmark.
They use auditory and visual markings, like pronking, whistling, and displaying a proud posture. They will also rub horns and heads across vegetation, soil, and shrubs in the vicinity. A behaviour called horning.
When reedbuck is scared or surprised, they’ll let out a loud whistle through their nostrils, which sound they also use when greeting a friend.
During friendly whistling, the reedbucks head is erect, ears point forward, and the tail hangs freely. During a call of surprise or fear, it stands very still with ears and head erect or plonks violently, hoping to scare off the intruder, which it usually cannot see.
While jumping or plonking, it releases a scent marker and often a popping noise that seems to come from the inguinal region.
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