Saturday, July 19, 2014


The bushbuck has the largest distribution of any antelope in sub-Saharan Africa: from Senegal, in West Africa, east to Ethiopia, then south through the Congo Basin and East Africa as far as northern Botswana and south Cape Province. Despite that, it is secretive and active mainly at night, so we did not see many, except for at Mount Kenya National Reserve where we saw quite a few. However, good pictures were hard to come by because we were seeing them at a great distance in light not conducive to good photography. 

The bushbuck has a smooth coat, except for a spinal crest that goes erect when it runs or is alarmed.  It has a distinctive rounded form. Females are yellowish or reddish tan above and males are reddish brown when younger and then turn dark chestnut as they grow older. They have six or seven irregularly spaced vertical white stripes on their backs, from the shoulder to the rump, white spots on the cheek, on the muzzle between the eyes and on the flanks and rump, a white band at the base of the neck, and a bushy tail that is white underneath, most visible when running. 
Female bushbuck at Mt. Kenya NR. White stripes faintly visible on the back and white spots on the sides, flank and face. 
Male bushbuck at Mt. Kenya. Note how much darker it is and the fewer number of spots. Stripes on back are visible and note the rounded back. 
Only the male has horns and they are straight, except with one tight twist.  Wikipedia notes that the bushbuck is regarded as the most dangerous medium-sized antelope because if it is wounded it will hide in the brush and charge the hunter when the hunter gets close, impaling the hunter with his horns. 
Male bushbuck at Mt. Kenya NR. Picture by John Mirau. White underneath tail is visible and some spots on the flank. Two red-billed oxpecker birds are perched on its neck and back. 
Another male bushbuck. Photo by Mark Edwards. 
A lighter female bushbuck at Mt. Kenya. Photo by Mark Edwards. Black spine stripe is visible and white chest stripe are visible.
I thought the bushbuck was one of the most beautiful antelope we saw. Quite a few entered the meadow around the water hole at the Mountain Lodge, both male and female. Only females during the daylight hours and males and females in the evening and early morning hours.  I was very disappointed that we did not see many after Mount Kenya NR or under better picture-taking conditions. The only one I remember after Mt. Kenya was when we first arrived at the Serena Mara Lodge in Masai Mara. When we went out the sliding door at the back of our room, I was very startled to see a female bushbuck walking right below us. I think the bushbuck was just as startled as I was. Note that the head is very fuzzy in the picture, indicating that the bushbuck was taking a double-take of me. 
Bushbuck below our balcony in Masai Mara. Good view of dark ridge on back. 
The same bushbuck after it continued on. The electric fence in front of it is meant to prevent the wild animals from coming in to the lodge area. 

1 comment:

  1. The male and female hardly look like the same species. They're a lot cuter than the antelope that are always eating the plants in my yard:)