Redunca arundinumsouthern reedbuck

Geographic Range

Southern reedbucks, Redunca arundinum, are found across much of south central Africa. They are found in southern Congo and in southern Tanzania, throughout Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and in the northern part of South Africa. Originally, reedbucks inhabited moister areas in the southern savannas of Africa. The northern limit of their range seems to be the edge of the Miombo woodlands. They are common along seasonally flooded valleys near the Ugalla Malayarasi River system. (Kingdon, 1982)


The habitat of R. arundinum consists of marshy areas that have an abundance of water and tall grasses. (Fourie, 1992; Kingdon, 1982)

Physical Description

Redunca arundinum is the largest of the three reedbuck species. On average, males weigh about 68 kg and females weigh about 48 kg. Animals range in length from 134 to 167 cm. Color in southern reedbucks is extremely variable. They can have a light yellowish brown to a gray brown coat. They have a white underside and chin with light tan streaks on the sides of the head and white rings around the eyes. There are white and black markings on the forelegs. The tail is bushy with a fluffy, white underside. Only males have horns, which emerge around the sixth month of life. The horns are strongly ridged, growing to be 30 to 45 cm in length, and form a "V". As described by Nowak (1995), they jut from the head first pointing backwards gently, then curve upward and extend out at the tip. There is a bare glandular spot in both males and females below the ears. (Fourie, 1992; Huffman, 2003; Kingdon, 1982; Nowak, 1995)

  • Range mass
    39 to 80 kg
    85.90 to 176.21 lb
  • Average mass
    58 kg
    127.75 lb
  • Range length
    134 to 167 cm
    52.76 to 65.75 in
  • Average length
    150 cm
    59.06 in


During mating, females perform a dance, which involves long, lingering jumps (called pronking) with the tail curved upward. During every jump, scented air is released from inguinal pockets, producing a popping noise. During courtship, a male investigates the female's genitals, and after sampling her urine with his nose, copulation occurs. Males will defend females from other males. (Kingdon, 1982; Nowak, 1995; Pienaar, et al., 1987)

In R. arundinum breeding occurs throughout the year with a peak observed between December and May. Generally, one young is born after a 7 or 8 month gestation period. Females, when well nourished, reach sexual maturity at about two and males become mature about a year later. A few weeks before parturition, the female leaves the male and drives off young from previous years. At birth the lamb weighs only 4.5 kg. It stays hidden for about 2 months in vegetation. During this time the lamb presents itself once a day for nursing and cleaning. This takes between ten and thirty minutes. After the two months of concealment, the lamb joins its mother, but the two stay away from the male for another two months. After this, the family reunites. Females are usually sent away during their second year whereas males can stay with the family until adulthood (their third year). This is when the males begin searching for their own territory. (Kingdon, 1982; Nowak, 1995; Pienaar, et al., 1987)

  • Breeding interval
    Reedbucks breed throughout the year, with the interval depending on the nutritional status of the mother.
  • Breeding season
    Mating occurs throughout the year but there seems to be a peak in the wet season.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    7 to 8 months
  • Average time to independence
    Unknown months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    24 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    48 months

The mother reedbuck visits her offspring once a day to nurse for the first few months of its life. After this, the lamb remains with the mother. The mother and offspring keep to themselves for another few months before rejoining the male. The female reedbuck drives off her young once she is ready to give birth again. (Nowak, 1995; Kingdon, 1982)


The average lifespan of common reedbucks is between 10 and 12 years. There have not been many studies on longevity in reedbucks. Bohor reedbucks have been known to live in captivity for 18 years. (Nowak, 1995; Pienaar, et al., 1987)


Reedbucks are semi-gregarious. During the wet season, when food and water are abundant, reedbucks can be found in pairs, in small family groups (male, female, and young), or singly. During the winter months, when food and water become scarce, it is extremely rare to find a solitary reedbuck. In pairings, females initiate movements around territories. Though they are more social and may form temporary aggregations during the dry season, during the wet season territories are formed and defended.

When a male approaches females in another males' territory, an upright posture is presented. Also a slow and deliberate approach leads to either immediate surrender or attack. If the other male does not back off, these physical confrontations can lead to head butting and a display of pushing and shoving with the horns. Eventually one of the males will jump away and the other will strut and display an upright posture, signifying its dominance.

Territories are not well defined and may overlap. Marking occurs by using inguinal glands to scent a landmark. Auditory and visual markings includes pronking, whistling, and displaying a proud posture. The last marking is called horning. This includes rubbing horns and head across vegetation, soil, and shrubs in the vicinity. (Kingdon, 1982; Nowak, 1995; Pienaar, et al., 1987)

  • Range territory size
    150,000 to 400,000 m^2

Home Range

Females have a home range of 15 to 40 hectares. Males, in turn, maintain territories which encompass the ranges of several females.

Communication and Perception

A loud whistle is sounded in cases of surprise, fear, and greeting. The whistle is made by expelling air out of the nostrils. During friendly whistling, the reedbucks head is erect, ears point forward, and the tail hangs freely. During a call of surprise or fear, the reedbuck either stands very still with ears and head erect, or pronks violently hoping to scare off the intruder which it normally cannot see. While jumping or pronking there is often a popping noise that is heard that seems to come from the inguinal region which releases and scent marker. (Huffman, 2003; Jungius, 1971)

Food Habits

Redunca arundinum feeds exclusively on grasses, forbs, and sedges. They hold a special ecological niche by consuming grasses that are no shorter than they are. This lessens competition greatly. They seem to prefer young grasses and tender shoots of reeds, but do not limit themselves. They only consume leaves during the winter months when the nutritional value of grasses is greatly reduced. Being foregut fermentors, grazing is followed by ruminating for a few minutes to an hour. They are mainly nocturnal except during the dry season when they may also be seen grazing during the midday. The common reedbuck is very dependent on water and according to Jungius (1971) the reedbucks found in the Kruger National Park during the dry season drink at least once a day and do not venture farther than one and a half to two km away from the water holes. (Jungius, 1971; Kingdon, 1982; Nowak, 1995)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves


Cheetahs and leopards are the main predators of reedbucks. During the dry season, when they are more noticeable, predation increases. During this time they are also a prey source for wild dogs and lions. Because young reedbucks are "hidders" they are preyed upon by pythons and other small carnivores. Reedbucks have excellent hearing and use this as their main defense strategy. They stay completely still, hidden in the tall grasses using their camouflage coloration. They stay until the threat is about ten meters away and then they leap up, flashing their white cottony tail as they flea. As they pronk (high jump) away, they make loud, wheezing whistling sounds that emanate from their nose. (Jungius, 1971; Kingdon, 1982)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Reedbucks play an important role in the diets of many large and small predators in Africa. They are a staple food for cheetah and, during the dry season, the leopard as well. (Jungius, 1971)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Reedbucks are considered a game animal in much of South Africa. (Nowak, 1995)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

None known

Conservation Status

This is a very habitat dependent species. Habitat loss and degradation are the main factors influencing the survival of this species. Human settlement may encroach on their territory as well. ("The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species", 2002)

Other Comments

Redunca arundinum is known as the common reedbuck. (Kingdon, 1982)


Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Amber Shanklin (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



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

World Map


uses sound to communicate


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.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


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.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


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


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


active during the night


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them


remains in the same area


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

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

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.


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.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year


IUCN. 2002. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line ). Accessed 11/04/02 at

Fourie, P. 1992. Kruger National Park. Cape Town: Struik Publishers.

Huffman, B. 2003. "Southern Reedbuck" (On-line). Ultimate Ungulate Page. Accessed March 29, 2004 at

Jungius, H. 1971. The Biology and Behavior of the Reedbuck (Redunca Arundinum Boddaert 1785) In the Kruger National Park. Hamburg and Berlin: Verlay Paul Parey.

Kingdon, J. 1982. East African Mammals Vol IIIC. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Nowak, R. 1995. "Reedbucks" (On-line). Walker's Mammals of the World Online. Accessed March 29, 2004 at

Pienaar, U., S. Joubert, A. Hall-Martin, G. DeGraaff, I. Rautenbah. 1987. Field Guide to the Mammals of the Kruger National Park. Cape Town: Struik Publishers.