Waterbuck

Predators usually don’t hunt adult waterbucks as they have an unpleasant body odor because of the waterproofing secretions

Bernard DUPONT

Waterbucks, the robust and stately antelopes of the African savanna, offer a compelling study in adaptation and survival in the proximity of aquatic environments. Despite their name suggesting a purely aquatic lifestyle, waterbucks predominantly inhabit the fringes of grasslands, swamps, and water bodies, skillfully navigating the balance between land and water. Their presence in these transitional zones is not arbitrary but a strategic choice that enhances their survival prospects in the challenging African wilderness.

As grazers, waterbucks exhibit remarkable dietary flexibility that allows them to exploit a niche that many other herbivores avoid. Their preference for coarse grasses, which are often bypassed by other grazing species, minimizes competition for food resources. This dietary preference underscores the waterbuck’s adaptability and its role in the ecosystem as a consumer of less palatable vegetation, contributing to the maintenance of grassland health and diversity. On occasions when grasses are scarce or nutritional needs dictate, waterbucks will supplement their diet with the leaves of certain bushes and trees.

The daily routines of waterbucks, characterized by feeding during the cooler hours of the morning and evening and resting or ruminating throughout the day, are attuned to the rhythms of their environment. This pattern of activity helps them conserve energy and avoid the midday heat, a critical adaptation in the often harsh climates they inhabit.

However, the increasing presence of human activity within their habitats has prompted significant behavioral adjustments in waterbuck populations. In areas where human disturbance is high, waterbucks have shown a remarkable shift towards nocturnal behavior, grazing under the cover of darkness to avoid contact with humans. This shift not only illustrates the waterbuck’s capacity for behavioral adaptation but also highlights the broader impacts of human activity on wildlife behavior and ecosystem dynamics.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Angola
2016
Benin
2016
Botswana
2016
Burkina Faso
2016
Burundi
2016
Cameroon
2016
Central Af. Rep.
2016
Chad
2016
Congo-Brazzaville
2016
Côte D’ivoire
2016
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2016
Eritrea
2016
Eswatini
2016
Ethiopia
2016
Gabon
2016
Gambia
2016
Possibly Extinct, Vagrant
Ghana
2016
Guinea-Bissau
2016
Guinea
2016
Kenya
2016
Malawi
2016
Mali
2016
Mozambique
2016
Namibia
2016
Niger
2016
Nigeria
2016
Rwanda
2016
Senegal
2016
Sierra Leone
2016
Somalia
2016
South Africa
2016
South Sudan
2016
Sudan
2016
Tanzania
2016
Togo
2016
Uganda
2016
Zambia
2016
Zimbabwe
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No

Waterbuck on banknotes

Uganda 10 Shillings (1982)