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Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus)



Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus)
Order: Artiodactyla, Family: Bovidae

Ethiopian: Throughout central Africa, from south of the Sahara to north of the Kalahari deserts.



I. GEOGRAPHIC RANGE
  • Ethiopian: Throughout central Africa, from south of the Sahara to north of the Kalahari deserts.
II. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
  • Mass: 25 to 80 kg.
  • Male bushbucks are bigger than females, with weights ranging from 40 to 80 kg and shoulder heights from 70 to 100 cm. Females weigh about 25 to 60 kg and are 65 to 85 cm tall. Only males have horns, which usually spiral once and are fairly straight, parallel to one another, and up to a half meter long. Females are usually a lighter brown than males. Both sexes have white spots and stripes, the patterns of which vary geographically.
III. FOOD HABITS
  • Bushbucks are browsers. They eat herbs and the leaves, twigs, and flowers of a large number of plant species. Although they will eat a wide variety of plant species when hungry, they are somewhat selective when possible, prefering knobbly creeper and sausage tree. They will also occasionally eat fresh grass.
IV. REPRODUCTION
  • Young can be born at any time of year, but in arid regions there is a peak in birth rates during the rainy season. Gestation requires only 180 days, allowing a female to produce more than one calf per year. A single calf weighing about 4 kg is born. The calf does not follow its mother out into the open to forage until it is four months old. It remains hidden in the dense underbrush in the mean time, and its mother returns periodically to let it nurse. Sexual maturity is reached at one year, but males' horns do not reach full size until three years of age.
V. BEHAVIOR
  • Bushbuck are the least social of the African antelopes. They are often seen singly, although sometimes small groups of females and their respective young are found. Bushbuck are not territorial, and except for disputes over females in estrus they are not aggressive toward one another, so in areas with good quality habitat there may be several animals in close proximity. Therefore the traditional designation of them as "solitary" is somewhat misleading. These antelope are mainly nocturnal, although they may also be active at dusk and/or dawn. The daytime is spent concealed from predators (which include virtually all carnivores their size or larger) in dense, bushy cover of the type that is usually found near rivers. They come out at night to feed in more open areas, but never venture far from some type of cover. Bushbuck are very capable swimmers.
VI. HABITAT
  • Bushbucks can be found throughout their broad distribution wherever there is adequate cover for concealment, nearly irrespective of altitude or aridity. They live in forest edges or brushy cover associated with rivers and streams. During the night they move out of their home thicket to somewhat more open areas to feed.
  • Biomes: tropical rainforest, tropical deciduous forest, tropical scrub forest, tropical savanna & grasslands
VII. ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE FOR HUMANS
  • Positive
    These antelopes have been hunted as a food source.
  • Negative
    Bushbucks cause or are involved in a number of problems. Perhaps most seriously, their populations are controlled in areas near domestic cattle. Since bushbuck live among the trees and shrubs associated with rivers, they are frequently bitten by tsetse flies, which could then infect the cattle with nagana (sleeping sickness). Bushbuck cause damage in pine forestry areas by nibbling the tops of the young trees, resulting in excessive branching. Also, they frequently live on the outskirts of towns and cities, and in these areas they damage peoples' gardens.
VIII. CONSERVATION
  • Status: no special status
  • There are no special conservation efforts for this species. They are able to coexist with human habitation to a greater extent than many other species, and in some areas they are considered a pest and their population is controlled.



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