Wildlife Facts - Waterbuck

Posted by Hartenbos Private Game Lodge on Tue January 18, 2022 in Our Wildlife.

Latin Name: Kobus ellipsiprymnus
Hence their name, waterbuck tend to hang around areas where there is a lot of water, especially being water dependent animals. Bulls (males) in particular, will hold a territory where there is an abundant amount of water and food to attract females – he will only hold this territory in breeding seasons.

  • If males are not holding a territory, they tend to form a bachelor herd for survival.
  • Cows (females) and calves form a nursery herd and females will remain in the natal herd. Female have a gestation period of 9 months and give birth to one calf (although twins have been recorded).
  • Female waterbuck communicate with their calves using bleating or snorting.
  • Waterbuck have a lifespan of 11-15 years.
  • Males are the only ones that will have horns, which are long and curved with ridges or rings along them to help with slipping when fighting for territory.
  • As soon as young males start developing horns (at around 7-9 months of age), they are chased out of the herd by territorial bulls.
  • They have been known to evade predators by rushing into water as the predatory cats, such as lions and leopards, are very reluctant to get themselves wet – even if it means missing out on a meal.
  • The trademark white ring around the waterbucks’ hindquarters is used as a “follow me” sign. If one of the group spots a predator and runs, the rest know where to follow to avoid becoming dinner for one of the hungry cats.
  • Waterbuck have a lot of hair around their necks neck making them look as if they should be living in much colder climates, but there is a functionality to this hair as it is all hollow.
  • The hollow hair allows for extra buoyancy when swimming, helping the waterbuck to keep their heads above the water.
  • Its shaggy coat is reddish-brown to grey and becomes progressively darker with age.
  • Males are darker than females.
  • There is a cream-colored patch (called "bib") on the throat.
  • The long, spiral horns, present only on males, curve backward, then forward, and are 55-99 cm (22-39 in) long.
  • They are typically silent animals but will use alarm snorts for vocal communication.
  • They feed on a variety of grasses and may occasionally browse leaves from certain trees and bushes.
  • Waterbuck are polygynous breeders; this means that one male mates with more than one female.
  • During the mating season, the skin of the waterbuck secretes a greasy substance with the odor of musk, giving it the name "greasy kob". This odor is so unpleasant that it repels predators. This secretion also assists in water-proofing the body when the animal dives into the water.

Come and meet them at Hartenbos Private Game Lodge