The Sitatunga- Africa’s only real Amphibious Antelope

sitatunga-antelopeThe Sitatunga is one of the many different species of antelopes and it is also called a marsh duck probably because it is a swamp dweller. They are aquatic animals and very good swimmers which is probably why they feel comfortable staying in the swampy areas. Sitatunga are found in the several parts of Africa including the central and east Africa therefore you can expect to find them in countries like Uganda, DR.Congo, Tanzania, Southern Sudan, Cameroon, Kenya, among others.

Distinguishing characteristics of antelopes

Sitatungas are medium in size with the males measuring about 81-116 cm at the shoulder while the females grow up to between 72-90cm in length therefore the male ones are always the larger ones in size. They have got that shaggy but water proof and usually dark brown coat in males while the females are usually reddish brown in color. Their bodies and feet are designed to handle their life style of living in the swampy very well.

The difference between the males and the females is the fact that only Sitatungas grow horns.Their horns are spiral shaped with 1 but sometimes 2 twists and they can grow between 45 to 92 cm long.

Both the females and male have got that have white stripes on the back and splotches on their faces. They have got long and thin hooves to help them handle the challenges of living in the swamps.

Where do the Marsh Buck live in Uganda

They are amphibian therefore they can live both on land and in water which is why they are commonly seen in the marshy/ swampy. They live in tall swamps, in seasonal swamps, mangrove swamps and marshy forest. They are common in the central Africa, eastern countries. In Uganda, you can find Sitatungas mainly in Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary found in Kibale

What Marsh Buck feed one.

All antelopes are herbivore in nature which means they feed on green vegetations like the aquatic grass, the leaves, sedges and browse as well as foliage. They are however selective and so once they choose what they want to feed on, they that will have to stand only on the hind legs to reach the leaves of a slightly tall plants.

Maturity, reproduction and life span

At just one year, a female sitatunga is sexually mature but the males mature at 1½ years. They don’t exactly have breeding period therefore this can be during any time of the year after a competition among the males for a perfect mate. After conceiving, the female has a gestation period of 7½ months-8months and later gives birth to a single which they hide and only bring out in the open when there are many other sitatungas and that is done for purposes of protections.

Claves continue to follow their mothers around even after other calves are born. The mother protects, licks, and feeds its baby for 6 full months. The males leave the herd before sexual maturity but sometimes the females do so too.

While in captivity, Sitatungas can live for 22-23 years.

The ecology and behavior.

Normally the Sitatunga feed during the early hours of the day time and late in the evening at least two hours before dusk. They spend most of the time feeding except during the hotter hours of the day. During that time, they will hide back in the swamp to keep cool.

They live a solitary life but will pair up when they are ready to mate. There are however some cases where herds of them have been seen but they are very small herds of just about 9 members including the adult males, 4 mothers and 4 juveniles. Sometimes they form loose groups when they was to interact with other individual but in that case they will be of the same sex because individuals only interact with those of the same gender.

They also don’t form territories. The males use the horns as a weapon during the fights and when attacking vegetation

Predators and how they escape them

Since they are very good swimmers, they most of the time run into the water to escape attacks from predators like the leopards, the wild dogs and others. In this case, they submerge in the pool of water leaving only the nostrils above the water so they can breathe. Cases where it has to fully submerge include when it is having a problem with flies pr being pursued by any of the predators.  They are very comfortable with this since can also sleep under water.

They always look for that water with abundant vegetation so that they can easily hide from the crocodiles. The list of their predators is therefore not that long as includes the humans, crocodiles, pythons lions and leopards.

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