Southern Reedbuck, Redunca arundinum

The southern reedbuck (Redunca arundinum), also known as the common reedbuck or the rietbok, is a species of antelope that can be found in southern Africa. Its range extends from Tanzania and Gabon to South Africa, including Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Namibia, and Zambia, among other areas. It prefers a habitat within grasslands, woodlands, pastures, and valleys. This species uses reeds and other tall vegetation located near water to remain hidden from predators.

The southern reedbuck differs in size depending upon sex, with females reaching an average weight between 110 and 187 pounds, which is less than males that weigh between 132 and 209 pounds. Males grow horns that can reach an average length between 1.1 and 1.4 feet. The soft coat is typically light brown to brownish gray in color, with dark stripes extending down each leg. The underbelly is white in color, as well as the rings around each eye. Each southern reedbuck displays a black scent gland underneath both ears.

The southern reedbuck is typically found alone, or in pairs, but will sometimes gather in herds of up to twenty individuals. Pairs typically consist of a female and older, territorial male. This male will hold a territory of up to 148 acres, and will prevent rival males from entering and mating with the female. Young males and females display submissive behavior by “dancing” for older males, with the young males running and leaping around the buck. Every time the “dancing” individual lands, a strange popping noise and a scent are released from a scent gland in the groin area.

The southern reedbuck is typically able to mate throughout the year, with peak mating occurring during the wet and arid seasons. After a pregnancy period of seven to eight months, one young is born in a thick bed of vegetation cover, where it will remain for two months. Instead of staying with her young, the mother spends most of her day away from it, returning for only ten through thirty minutes to nurse it. Females reach sexual maturity at two years of age, at which time they will leave their birth territory, while males reach sexual maturity later, possible remaining in their natal territory for up to three years.

The diet of the southern reedbuck consists mainly of grasses, but it will also eat reeds and herbs. Although it does not swim, it does need to live nearby a water source, drinking up to a few times a day during the dry season. Its main predators include lions, cheetahs, leopards, spotted hyenas, crocodiles, and pythons. Camouflage is an effective means of avoiding predators, but if the reedbuck is startled, it may choose to run away. When running, it appears to rock back and forth, like a rocking horse, and will often stop to see if the predator has given up its chase. When a predator is spotted, the reedbuck will emit a high-pitched whistle to alert the other reedbucks in the area to the danger. The average lifespan of this species is ten years.

Although the southern reedbuck is considered widespread through most areas of its range, it has become extinct in some areas because of habitat destruction and hunting. In South America, populations have become extremely small, and this is similar in Central and western Africa. It is thought that sixty percent of all reedbucks occur in protected areas, including Selous National Park in Tanzania and Nyika National Park in Malawi. Despite its declining population numbers, the southern reedbuck appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “least Concern.”

Image Caption: The Southern Reedbuck, or Common Reedbuck (Redunca arundinum) is an antelope, found in Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and northern South Africa. Sigurwana Lodge, Soutpansberg, Limpopo, South Africa. Credit: Winfried Bruenken/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)