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Southern Reedbuck @ Western Shores - iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Photo: Håvard Rosenlund

Southern Reedbuck

Southern Reedbuck - Redunca arundinum - Distribution mapSouthern reedbuck or common reedbuck (Redunca arundinum) is the largest species of reedbuck, with the other two being bohor reedbuck (R. redunca) and mountain reedbuck (R. fulvorufula). Reedbuck males are easily recognized by the horns that are curved and bent forwards. Southern reedbucks generally stand up to 80-90 cm (31-35 in) at the shoulder. Males can weigh 68 kg (150 lb) and females 48 kg (106 lb). Coat is silky and color varies between light and greyish brown. A common distinguishable marker for both sexes is a circular black glandular patch under the ears.

Diet and habitat

Southern reedbuck diet consists mainly of grass, although reeds and herbs are also eaten. They are commonly found in areas with water, as they need to drink every few days or more in the dry season. They do not go into the water, but stay most of the day hidden in tall grass or reeds. Feeding activity peaks at early morning, late evening, and sometimes during the night.

Social behaviour

Southern reedbucks live mixed social lives as they can be solitary, in pairs, and live in groups of up to 20 individuals. Old males are territorial and will defend their territory from rivals. Such older males often have one female accompanying him, making it harder for competitors to gain access. Females and younger males within the territory of an older dominant male will sometimes please the older male by doing a ritualistic “dance”. Individuals will run around at high speed while taking long jumps. They will curl up the tail and release a scent from the groin at every bounce.

Reproduction

Southern reedbuck can breed throughout the year although mating peaks during the wet season. Gestation period is seven to eight months and normally only one calf is born. The young will stay at the place it was born for two months in cover. The mother will not stay with the calf but will come back to nurse it for 10-30 minutes every day. Females reach sexual maturity after two years and will then leave the natal home range. Males reach maturity later and will leave the group at around three years of age.

Status

The southern reedbuck is a shy but fairly common species in southern Africa. It has a large range stretching from Gabon in the west to Tanzania in the east and down to South Africa, skipping the drier areas of the south-west and central portions of Southern Africa. It occurs in large numbers throughout its range while spanning multiple water rich habitats. There are large populations in protected areas and private reserves and farms. Because of its stable numbers and numerous population it is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List.

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