marsh antelope

marsh antelope, name for members of a group of deerlike African antelopes, usually found in reeds or tall grasses near water. The males of this group have horns that curve back, up, and forward; females are hornless. Most marsh antelopes travel in small herds.

The waterbucks are large marsh antelopes with long, coarse, brown hair. The males stand up to 50 in. (125 cm) at the shoulder and weigh up to 500 lb (225 kg). They are found in reedy or grassy country but may wander several miles from water. Strong swimmers, they often take to water when pursued. The common waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus ellipsiprymnus) is found in S and E Africa, the Defassa waterbuck (K. ellipsiprymnus defassa) in central Africa. The kob (K. kob) and the puku (K. vardonii), of equatorial Africa, are smaller, reddish antelopes, always found close to water or swamps.

The lechwes are the most aquatic of the marsh antelopes; they often spend the day submerged up to the neck. The lechwe, or southern lechwe (K. leche), is found in S Africa, and the Nile lechwe (K. megaceros) in South Sudan and Ethiopia. The reedbucks (genus Redunca), whose different species are distributed over most of Africa, are small, generally solitary antelopes about 30 in. (76 cm) high; the smallest, the mountain reedbuck (R. fulvorufula), is found in the hills and mountains of E Africa. The unrelated rhebok (Pelea capreolus) resembles the reedbuck but has a woolly coat; it is found in hilly country in S Africa.

Marsh antelopes are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Bovidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology