Gelbfuss-Moorantilope (G), Puku (F), Poekoe (Af). Missionary and explorer Dr. David Livingstone, who first collected this species on the Zambezi River in Zambia about 1853, called it poku, which was presumed to be its local name. He named it Antilope vardoni, after British army officer Major Frank Vardon, who hunted with him in southern Africa. At one time it was called Vardon's kob.
DESCRIPTION Shoulder height 31-32 inches (79-81 cm). Weight 150-175 pounds (68-79 kg).
The puku is a medium-sized antelope closely related to the kob. The back is straight, the tail short, the coat fairly long. Color is a bright golden yellow. Underparts are whitish, and there are whitish areas around the eyes, on the sides of the muzzle, and on the throat. No black markings on the legs. Horns (males only) are thick, short, lyrate and heavily ringed. The female is similar but somewhat smaller, has a brownish crown and no horns.
BEHAVIOR Similar to the kob. The puku is considered by some as intermediate between lechwes and kobs. Usually lives in small herds of up to 10, sometimes more, but after the breeding season females and young form larger herds of up to 50. Males are in small bachelor groups or are solitary. When breeding, males defend small territories in a common territorial ground or lek, similar to a kob. Diurnal. Mainly a grazer, but browses occasionally. Drinks water regularly.
HABITAT Open flats near rivers or swamps, never far from water.
DISTRIBUTION Discontinuously in northeastern Angola, Zambia, the Chobe region in Botswana, Katanga Province in Congo (K), southwestern Tanzania, and Malawi.
REMARKS Puku are usually not difficult to hunt; however, where heavily hunted they become wary and skittish.
TAXONOMIC NOTES Includes vardoni (the species range in Angola, western Zambia, Botswana, and Congo [K]), and senganus (the so-called Senga kob of southwestern Tanzania, Malawi, and the Luangwa Valley in Zambia). They are combined here.