South Africa’s mountainous areas is home to the Mountain Reedbuck, a grazing antelope uniquely adapted to the highlands, mountains, hills and rocky ridges, where they prefer open vegetation.
Though they closely resemble the related southern reedbuck, they’re much more lightly built, weighing approximately 30kg and standing about 75cm at the shoulder. Only the males carry the short, forwardly curved horns.
Mountain reedbuck are more social than their close cousins, occurring in herds of up to 40, but more usually up to 16 individuals, consisting mostly of ewes and their lambs accompanied by a mature, territorial male. They’re active during the cooler daylight hours and throughout the night, which is when they’re normally heading into the lower-lying areas to drink, returning to their rugged abodes before first light. Most lambs are born in the summer rainy season and remain hidden for up to three months, with the ewe returning to it regularly to suckle, before joining their mothers in the herd. Their life expectancy is not much more than 14 years, with most of Africa’s larger predators including them in their diet and jackals especially taking a heavy toll on lambs.
The mountain reedbuck is safely protected in several South African reserves and the IUCN estimates their population at 33,000 at least. We’ve encountered them in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, at Golden Gate, Loskop Dam, Marakele, Pilanesberg and Rietvlei Nature Reserve, but in our experience Ithala Game Reserve and Willem Pretorius Game Reserve offers the best chances to have close-up sightings of this agile antelope.