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Common Reedbuck - Species Detail
Antilope de los canaverales (Sp), Grossriedbock (G), Cobe des roseaux (F), Rietbok (Af). Sometimes called southern reedbuck, which is misleading, because mountain reedbucks are found equally far south.
DESCRIPTION Shoulder height 34-37 inches (86-94 cm). Weight 140-170 pounds (64-77 kg).
The common reedbuck is a graceful, medium-sized antelope with a coarse coat that varies in coloring with the individual animal from dark brown to light buff. The underparts are white. The front legs have a dark stripe in front. The ears are broad and round. There is a black (sometimes whitish), hairless glandular patch below the ear in most populations, although it is sometimes poorly developed or missing altogether. The tail is short, thick and bushy with a white underside. The horns (males only) are rather short (but longer than in other reedbucks), ringed, and evenly divergent; they curve gently and evenly backward, up and forward to sharp points without forming hooks. There is a rounded, pasty swelling at the base of the horns, which is incipient or "green" horn material. Females are a little smaller than males and do not grow horns, but are otherwise similar.
BEHAVIOR Usually solitary or in pairs, sometimes in small family groups. The male defends his territory, excluding other males but not fighting seriously enough to cause injury. Breeding takes place throughout the year, but with seasonal peaks; most births take place December-May. The single young stays with the mother until shortly before the birth of the next. Lifespan about 10 years.
Largely nocturnal but also active by day in the dry season. Feeds almost entirely on grasses. Drinks water daily. Eyesight, hearing and sense of smell are all good. It runs with a rocking-horse gait, holding the tail upright to show the white underside. It is reluctant to enter or to cross water. Alarm call is a shrill whistle.
HABITAT Tall grass and reedbeds near a water supply, at all elevations from sea level to high mountains. Scattered trees and bush are tolerated, but woodland and scrub are avoided.
DISTRIBUTION Southern Gabon, southern Congo (B), western and southern Congo (K), Zambia, Malawi, western and southern Tanzania, Angola, the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and northern and eastern South Africa. (Reports of its occurrence in Sudan are dismissed by all zoologists.)
The distribution range of the common reedbuck overlaps that of the eastern bohor reedbuck in parts of Tanzania. Both species have been seen side by side in several localities, but the common reedbuck tends to be dominant in the uplands and in grassy valleys and glades within Miombo woodlands, and to a lesser extent Brachystegia woodlands, while the bohor reedbuck dominates in areas of flood plains, open grasslands and reedbeds.
REMARKS The common reedbuck can be difficult to hunt in high grass; however, it is not especially wary and, once the grass is down, the difficulty eases. Even when alarmed it will usually stop running after a hundred yards or so and look back.
TAXONOMIC NOTES Two subspecies are recognized: arundinum (southern parts of the species range, perhaps as far north as Angola and the Zambezi River), and occidentalis (northern parts of the species range, probably as far south as Zambia, Tanzania, northern Malawi, and northern Mozambique). Limits and intergrading of the two races are not clear. They are combined here.
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