Tag Archives: Waterbuck

Satara Summer 2021 – Mingling with Antelope

The Kruger National Park is home to 21 different kinds of antelope – more than any other protected area in our country. Along with zebras and warthogs they form the staple prey for the majority of the large predators in the Park.

The Satara area of the park, which we visited in December 2021, hosts the largest concentrations of Blue Wildebeest in Kruger. Most Wildebeest calves are born at this time of the year, when the summer rains bring a flush of green fodder for the lactating cows.

Bushbuck aren’t seen around Satara all that often; the veld is generally too open for their liking in this part of the Park and any sightings are likely to be along the stream courses where the riverine vegetation provides the cover and browse they need.

The S36 road linking Satara and Orpen to the picnic spots at Muzandzeni and Nhlanguleni is usually reliable for finding Common Duikers, and if you are lucky these shy little antelope may stand still for a second or two so you can take a picture.

It is a real pity that the Impala is so numerous in Kruger that most visitors seem to not even spare them a second glance. They are actually really athletic and beautiful antelope.

Joubert got these photographs of two impala rams sparring.

The birth of Impala lambs are timed to occur en masse at the end of November and into early December. The lambs congregate into a “creche” within the herd when they’re at rest, but can often be seen running and chasing each other around – seems they have boundless energy.

In the evening of the 31st of December, along the Sweni Road (S126), we encountered a huge herd of Impalas. They were on the move, relinquishing the open plain where they were feeding for denser bush in which to spend the night. We spent several minutes with the herd as they walked off until the whole plain was abandoned.

Owing to the general scarcity of suitable rocky habitats around Satara, our only Klipspringer sighting of the entire 3 weeks we spent in that part of the Kruger Park was at an outcrop to the south of Tshokwane.

Three Klipspringers near Tshokwane

The open, thorny savanna around Satara supports a high density of the magnificent Greater Kudu and they can easily be seen along any of the roads that radiate from the camp.

By contrast, the Nyala is rarely encountered in this part of the Park and while they’re sometimes seen along the course of the Nwaswitsontso River south of Satara we had to go north to the banks of the Olifants River this time around to see this impressive bull.

Nyala bull

The Steenbok is the small antelope seen most often around Satara – they find the open grasslands perfectly to their liking.

The less I say about the expression on these Steenbokkies’ faces after mating, the better probably…

The Tsessebe is one of the rarest antelope in the Kruger National Park, and is not found near Satara. We undertook a day’s outing north to the Mopani area of the Park specifically to go looking for them, and luckily did not return to Satara with nothing to show for our effort.

Another large antelope you would defnitely encounter when visiting Satara is the Waterbuck. They’re quite numerous along the courses of the Nwanetsi and Gudzani streams to the east of the camp.

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Waterbuck Duel at Dusk

While visiting the Mopani area of the Kruger National Park this past weekend, we (myself and three very good friends) came across these waterbuck bulls involved in a massive fight about a patch of the Nshawu Vlei (marsh) and the eligible cows that inhabit it. As is the case with several antelope species in the Park, their rutting season will be coming to an end soon and these bulls are quite desperate to sire their share of the calves that will be born towards the end of the year.

Circle

The unusual posterior markings of the waterbuck is an ideal fit for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge “Circle“!

 

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Waterbuck

Kobus ellipsiprymnus

The Waterbuck is the largest member of the family Reduncinae, which also includes the Southern Reedbuck, Mountain Reedbuck, Grey Rhebok and several other species occurring elsewhere in Africa.

The race occurring in South Africa, the Common Waterbuck (K.e.ellipsiprymnus) is characterised by a white circle around their tails, distinguishing them from the Defassa Waterbuck (K.e.defassa) which has a solid white patch on their posteriors. These shaggy antelope weigh up to 270kg and adult bulls are up to 1.7m high at the shoulder. The gracefully curved horns of the bulls can reach a meter in length.

As their name suggests, the waterbuck is seldom found far from a permanent water source, requiring to drink around 9 liters of water daily. Waterbuck inhabit open savannah, grasslands, floodplains, marshes and reedbeds, where they feed predominantly on long grass. They occur in mixed herds with up to sixty members, though normally much smaller. Most calves are born in the rainy season, and remain hidden for up to four weeks before joining their maternal herds. When pursued by predators, waterbuck will often take refuge in deep water, being good swimmers. They’re a favourite prey of lions, though calves fall victim to all of Africa’s large predators, and have a life expectancy up to 18 years.

The waterbuck is one of South Africa’s most common and well-known antelope, occurring naturally in most of the Northern and Eastern provinces and introduced widely outside its natural range on private land. The biggest population occurs in the Kruger National Park, with sizeable herds also at Ithala Game ReservePilanesberg National Park and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, among the many private and public protected areas in which they can be found. It is also widespread in the rest of Africa, with the IUCN estimating a total population of around 200,000 for the continent.

Waterbuck (14)