Tragelaphus scriptusbushbuck

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Geographic Range

Throughout central Africa, from south of the Sahara to north of the Kalahari deserts.

Habitat

Bushbucks can be found throughout their broad distribution wherever there is adequate cover for concealment, nearly irrespective of altitude or aridity. They live in forest edges or brushy cover associated with rivers and streams. During the night they move out of their home thicket to somewhat more open areas to feed.

Physical Description

Male bushbucks are bigger than females, with weights ranging from 40 to 80 kg and shoulder heights from 70 to 100 cm. Females weigh about 25 to 60 kg and are 65 to 85 cm tall. Only males have horns, which usually spiral once and are fairly straight, parallel to one another, and up to a half meter long. Females are usually a lighter brown than males. Both sexes have white spots and stripes, the patterns of which vary geographically.

  • Range mass
    25 to 80 kg
    55.07 to 176.21 lb

Reproduction

Young can be born at any time of year, but in arid regions there is a peak in birth rates during the rainy season. Gestation requires only 180 days, allowing a female to produce more than one calf per year. A single calf weighing about 4 kg is born. The calf does not follow its mother out into the open to forage until it is four months old. It remains hidden in the dense underbrush in the mean time, and its mother returns periodically to let it nurse. Sexual maturity is reached at one year, but males' horns do not reach full size until three years of age.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Range number of offspring
    1 (low)
  • Average number of offspring
    1
  • Average number of offspring
    1
    AnAge
  • Range gestation period
    5.93 to 6.23 months
  • Average gestation period
    5.99 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    496 days
    AnAge
  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • post-independence association with parents

Lifespan/Longevity

  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    15.3 years
    AnAge

Behavior

Bushbuck are the least social of the African antelopes. They are often seen singly, although sometimes small groups of females and their respective young are found. Bushbuck are not territorial, and except for disputes over females in estrus they are not aggressive toward one another, so in areas with good quality habitat there may be several animals in close proximity. Therefore the traditional designation of them as "solitary" is somewhat misleading. These antelope are mainly nocturnal, although they may also be active at dusk and/or dawn. The daytime is spent concealed from predators (which include virtually all carnivores their size or larger) in dense, bushy cover of the type that is usually found near rivers. They come out at night to feed in more open areas, but never venture far from some type of cover. Bushbuck are very capable swimmers.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Bushbucks are browsers. They eat herbs and the leaves, twigs, and flowers of a large number of plant species. Although they will eat a wide variety of plant species when hungry, they are somewhat selective when possible, prefering knobbly creeper and sausage tree. They will also occasionally eat fresh grass.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

These antelopes have been hunted as a food source.

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Bushbucks cause or are involved in a number of problems. Perhaps most seriously, their populations are controlled in areas near domestic cattle. Since bushbuck live among the trees and shrubs associated with rivers, they are frequently bitten by tsetse flies, which could then infect the cattle with nagana (sleeping sickness). Bushbuck cause damage in pine forestry areas by nibbling the tops of the young trees, resulting in excessive branching. Also, they frequently live on the outskirts of towns and cities, and in these areas they damage peoples' gardens.

Conservation Status

There are no special conservation efforts for this species. They are able to coexist with human habitation to a greater extent than many other species, and in some areas they are considered a pest and their population is controlled.

Contributors

Deborah Ciszek (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Ethiopian

living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

Estes, R.D. 1993. The Safari Companion. Chelsea Green Publishing Co., Post Mills, Vermont.

Skinner, J.D. and R.H.N. Smithers. 1990. The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion. University of Pretoria, South Africa.