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REEDBUCK COMMON

These graceful antelope are so called because they hide in reeds and the tall grass of marshes during the day.  When alarmed they give a distinctive, shrill whistle produced by closing their mouths and blowing through their nostrils.  They display a characteristic bushy white tail when running and have an unusual white tube over the base of each horn.

Despite the similarity in their names, the grey rhebuck and the reedbucks are not closely related. 

Behaviour: Common reedbucks are primarily nocturnal, and are active from late afternoon until dawn.  During dry winters their activity extends into daylight.  Although water dependent, common reedbuck do not readily enter deeper water but limit themselves to grazing on vegetation growing in shallow water about 20cm deep.  They use fixed pathways to move between grazing grounds and water on a daily basis, with a result that the same animals are frequently seen at the same sites.  During most of the daylight hours they lie in hollows between reeds or tall grass.

Their main predators include lions, leopards, and cheetahs, spotted hyenas, Cape hunting dogs, pythons, and crocodiles. When danger approaches from a distance, common reedbuck frequently gives a sharp high-pitched whistle through their nostrils to alert others about danger, similar to that of the mountain reedbuck and grey rhebuck.  This is a very distinctive sound often heard in the evening. If startled or attacked, they stand still, then either hide or flee with an odd rocking-horse movement, and cautiously look back to ensure the danger is gone, generally.  The running speed is relatively slow in comparison to most other African antelope and they rely on their cryptic camouflage to remain unseen.  This behaviour is a major drawback when they are hunted by feral dog packs.  It is extremely difficult to approach common reedbuck without being seen as they feed mainly at head height giving them a constant view of their surroundings.

Trophy: Only the males carry horns which appear as buds at six months and grow straight until an age of 14 months when the ends start to bend slightly forward and sideways.  They are heavily grooved from the base for 65% of their length.  From an age of 11 months, the outer keratin layer at the base of the horns dries out to form a thick layer of flakes giving the impression of a white tube surrounding the horn.  At two years the flake tubes extend upwards for 20% of the horns’ length.  Above the tubes, the first half of the horn is shiny black and the remainder a dull greyish-black.  The full half-circle of the adult horn is reached at 3.5-4 years and trophy status after 5.5 years.