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Mammals

Sitatunga

sitatunga

Tragelaphus spekei (also known as Swamp antelope, water kudu)

Distribution:

Central West Africa, as far south as the Zambezi

Habitat:

Swampy ground in forests and among reeds and papyrus. Often found in stagnant water, on islands in lakes and large rivers.

Diet:

They eat water and swamp plants, fresh grass and some leaves and twigs.

Gestation:

7.5-8.5 months; one offpring

Longevity:

19 years

Predators:

Crocodile, leopard, large snakes, lion

Conservation status:

Least concern

General:

Colour can vary between individuals, particularly females. Females are red-brown with white markings (circular spots) on face and body. Old bucks are usually brownish-black with less conspicuous markings than females and juvenile males. The buck’s horns grow up to 92cm long with up to 1.5 twists lengthwise.


Sitatunga are well-adapted to living in swamps. Their long slender legs are tipped with two narrow main hooves 10cm long, which spread widely when the antelope walks in mud. Further up its foot are two false hooves 2-3cm long, which are only effective when the mud is particularly deep and help to prevent the animal sinking further into it.


Sitatunga are good swimmers, sometimes submerging in water except for the tips of their noses, especially when a predator is nearby. When disturbed, they will always run toward water. They rest during the day in swamps or water, coming out to graze at dusk.


Sitatunga tend to stay in one area and live by themselves, in pairs or a small group.


Given continuing habitat degradation and intensive meat hunting in parts of its range, if present trends continue the Sitatunga may disappear from many areas where it still occurs. Viable populations will eventually be largely restricted to those regions which currently support substantial, stable or increasing populations.

At Hamilton Zoo:

We have one female sitatunga at Hamilton Zoo. She was born 26 September 2000.