Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Common Tsessebe

The common tsessebe (Damaliscus lunatus) has five subspecies: (a) the topi (D.l. jimela), which I've blogged about previously; (b) the korrigum (D.l. korrigum); (c) the coastal topi (D.l. topi); (d) the tiang (D.l. tiang); and (e) the common topi (D.l. lunatus), the nominate subspecies, which retains the name of the species. The map below shows the distribution of the subspecies. The Bangweulu tsessebe (D. superstes), also shown in the map below, has been recognized as a separate species. 
The common tsessebe subspecies, which this post is about, is found in Angola, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and South Africa. It is the fastest antelope in Africa, running at speeds over 90 km per hour (54 mph). We saw one common tsessebe in the Okavango Delta of Botswana, mingling with a herd of red lechwe. We sat and watched the herd for about 20 minutes  and found it hard to get a good photo of the tsessebe because it always had its head to the ground, eating grass. 
It has a chestnut brown body, black on the front of the face and tuft of the tail, grayish or bluish/black on the forelimbs and thigh, brownish/yellow to yellow on their hindlimbs, and white on their bellies. 

The IUCN has noted a population decline due to habitat destruction and that it will become vulnerable to extinction by 2025.  

1 comment:

  1. Its short horns and humpy back are so distinct, and it has such a melodious name. It was kind of fun to see just one, which made it seem extra special.