Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Defassa Waterbuck

I previously did a post on the common or ellipsen waterbuck which is a group of waterbucks with four subspecies. Now I focus on the defassa waterbuck which is a group of waterbucks with nine subspecies. The information I have readily accessible to me does not provide sufficient detail to delve into the differences among the different subspecies. As indicated previously, the biggest difference between the ellipsen and defassa groups is that the ellipsen waterbuck has an ellipse or bulls-eye on its rump and the defassa has a completely white rump. 
Defassa waterbuck in Masai Mara. White rump is visible.
Defassa waterbuck in Masai Mara.
Defassa waterbuck in Nakuru NP. Photo by Judy.
The defassa waterbuck does have a wider distribution in Africa than the ellipsen. The defassa is found in West Africa, from eastern Senegal east to western Ethiopia and then selectively south to western Zambia. Our experience, which may or may not be typical, was that we saw much more of the defassa waterbuck than the ellipsen waterbuck. 
A young male defassa waterbuck with spike horns. Photo by Esmee Tooke.
Several spike waterbucks in Nakuru NP.
A beautiful adult male waterbuck with fully developed horns in Nakuru NP. Photo by Mark Edwards.
Like the ellipsen, the defassa waterbuck has white eyebrows, white inside the ears, white around the nostrils and lips, a white bib and black legs. Males have striking looking horns that are thick, very pointed with spiral knobs. 
Waterbucks were one of my favorite animals. Big ears, shaggy coat, beautiful eyes. Photo by Mark Edwards.
Photo by Mark Edwards.
We saw the majority of our ellipsen waterbucks in Buffalo Springs NR and we saw large groups of defassa waterbucks in Nakuru NP and Masai Mara NR. 
A defassa waterbuck with zebras and topis behind it in Masai Mara. Photo by Mark Edwards.
One of the more sad incidents of our trip occurred in Masai Mara where we watched a cheetah eating a young defassa waterbuck while its mother looked on. She stayed about 30 yards away, on high alert and totally focused on that cheetah, the entire time we watched which was about 30 minutes. Interestingly, a spotted hyena came up at some distance behind the waterbuck, obviously looking to get some scraps from the cheetah. 
Earlier in the day, at Masai Mara, we watched a cheetah stalking a young a young Thomson's gazelle. Various animals stood their ground, like these defassa waterbucks, while the cheetah ambled through the area. 
Later that afternoon we found a cheetah eating a young waterbuck. It could have been the same or a different cheetah. Photo by John Mirau.
The mother of the young waterbuck looked on, about 30 yards away. An opportunistic spotted hyena comes up behind her, apparently looking to cash in on the cheetah kill. Photo by Steven Shuel.

1 comment:

  1. I like those striped horns on the adult male. Very swanky.