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Puku (Kobus vardonii)



Puku (Kobus vardonii)
Order: Artiodactyla, Family: Bovidae

Native: Ethiopian. Fragmentary populations through southern Central Africa, including northern Botswana, northern Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, and southern Democratic Republic of the Congo.



I. GEOGRAPHIC RANGE
  • Native: Ethiopian. Fragmentary populations through southern Central Africa, including northern Botswana, northern Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, and southern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
II. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
  • Mass: 62 to 74 kg.
  • Kobus vardonii is an antelope very similar in appearance to Kob (Kobus kob) and Lechwe (Kobus leche). The lack of markings on the back distinguishes it from these. The shoulder height is approximately 80 cm with a body length between 1.5-1.7 m. The back and legs are uniformly brown, while the side and tail are more yellowish. The underside of the body and neck are off-white, as well as the hair immediately around the eyes and mouth.
  • The male grows relatively short (approximately 45 cm) horns. These are lyre-shaped and ridged deeply.
III. FOOD HABITS
  • Nearly exclusively eats grasses
IV. REPRODUCTION
  • The majority of the young are born during the rainy season from January through April, but they may be born at any time of year. After a gestation of about 240 days a single young is born. Those young born during the wet season take advantage of the thick vegetation to hide from predators. After its first few weeks it comes out of hiding and joins the herd, grouping with other juveniles.
  • Males control a piece of land and the females come into that territory to mate. Male traits, territorial forage quality and predation risk are all significant predictors for a female's choice of mate.
V. BEHAVIOR
  • Herds are unstable, ranging between 5 and 30 individuals with free movement between different herds. Males establish temporary territories, holding them for a period ranging from only a few days up to several months. Females with young form nursury herds and move through the territories of males. The males try to keep the females in their territory when the females are in heat .
  • Diurnal; nocturnal; crepuscular; social
VI. HABITAT
  • Found mainly in moist savannah and floodplains containing rivers or marshes. Some might be found in adjacent areas of light woodland.
  • Savanna or grassland
VII. CONSERVATION
  • The population numbers are greatly reduced in some areas, notably in Angola, Botswana, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Only about 150 individuals remain in Botswana all concentrated in the Chobe National Park. In contrast, the number occurring in Tanzania is a robust 40,000. The Zambian population is even greater.
  • The entire population was wiped out of Malawi in the 1930s. In 1984 there was apparently a successful reintroduction of the species back into the will.
  • A study in Kasanka National Park in Zambia found that male Kobus vardoni were especially vulnerable to poaching. There were large areas of unoccupied suitable habitat. After five years of anti-poaching control the number of individual puku increased two fold. This provides hope for the regeneration of the species in areas where its numbers have been depleted.
  • Status:
    • IUCN: Lower Risk
    • U.S. ESA: No special status
    • U.S. MBTA: 1
    • CITES: No special status
VIII. OTHER COMMENTS
  • Predators: Hyaena, Leopard, Lion, Wild Dog
  • Some authorities consider this species to be a subspecies of Kobus kob.



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