Kob | African Wildlife Foundation

Kobs are competing with
agriculture for living spaces

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Kob

Conservation Status:

Least Threatened

  • Native to more than 15 African countries
  • Regionally extinct in 3 African countries
  • Live in groups of 40 or less

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Kobus kob

Weight

140 to 200 lb.

Size

40 to 45 in. at the shoulder

Life span

20 years

Habitat

Grasslands, floodplains, or savanna woodlands

Diet

Herbivorous

Gestation

8 months

Predators

Large carnivores, humans

Habitat

Where do kob live?

Although still numerous in Western Uganda, kobs are far less common now in other areas of East Africa. They were once found in Western Kenya and Northern Tanzania but have not been seen there in recent years. Kobs do still range across sub-Saharan Africa. They prefer low-lying flats or gently rolling country, free of seasonal extremes and close to permanent water. 

Tags: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DRC, Niger, Uganda, Regional Parc W, West/Central Africa View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What is a kob?

The kob is similar in appearance to the impala, but the two species are not related. The Ugandan kob generally is reddish-brown, but other subspecies range from light brown to almost black. The underside of the body is white, a white ring appears around each eye, and a white patch or chevron appears on the throat; a black stripe runs down the front of each foreleg. Horns occur only in males and though lyre-shaped, they are shorter, thicker, and ringed almost to the tip.

Behavior & Diet

Kobs are dependent on larger animals for prime grazing conditions.

Kobs graze on short grass and are dependent on larger animals such as hippos, buffalo, topis, and hartebeests to create those grazing conditions. Like reedbucks and waterbucks, kobs develop attachments to particular localities, returning to the same grazing areas and watering places day after day, season after season.

Unlike other antelopes, kob males practice the art of courtship.

The premating and postmating behavior of kobs is different from that of other antelopes. The male is not as rough with the female and does not attempt to force her to stay within his territory—rather, he appears to try gently to convince her. He makes soft noises during courtship play, repeatedly whistling through his nostrils after mating. The sound carries across the breeding grounds and may be echoed by the other territorial males.

Kobs hold strongly to social traditions.

The social structure of the kob is based on small herds that come together into larger groups of up to 1,000 animals. Unlike most other antelopes, the kob has permanent breeding grounds, called leks, where almost all mating takes place—some of these have been in continuous use for at least 50 years. Lekking grounds, usually located on a knoll or elevated area near water, are roughly circular in shape and are 20 to 100 yards in diameter. When female kobs come into heat, they are attracted by the concentrated deposits of hormone-rich urine that accumulates in the leks. Competition for the innermost territories is fierce, and males hold their territories for only a day or two before turnover.

Newborns are suckled until they are half the size of an adult.

Females suckle a single young kob for six to seven months. At the time of weaning, it has reached half of its adult size. Young males begin to grow their horns at 5 months, and by 1 year of age, the horns are about as long as the ears. Kobs become sexually mature between 13 and 14 months, but a male will not be active in the breeding grounds until he is 3 or 4 years old.

Gallery
  • Kob AWF
  • Kob Stephen Ham
  • Kob John Butler
  • Uganda Biodiversity Through Tourism Stephen Ham
Challenges

Kobs are competing for land with humans.

Kobs are ecologically restricted, preferring low-lying flats or gently rolling country, free of seasonal extremes and close to permanent water. These also happen to be favorable conditions for farming, and kobs find themselves in competition with humans who are using these lands for agriculture.

Solutions

Our solutions to protecting the kob:

  • Set aside protected areas.

    African Wildlife Foundation works with governments and local communities to designate wildlife corridors—large swaths of land that kob can use to roam freely and safely from one park, or country, to another. Corridors link protected areas and allow wildlife to follow rains or travel to and from their calving grounds.

  • Create livelihood alternatives.

    AWF has a long history of working with pastoralist communities to improve sustainable livelihoods. In Tanzania and Kenya, AWF, with funding from U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), launched the Livestock for Livelihoods Program. The program aims to eradicate poverty among pastoralist communities while simultaneously protecting landscapes and wildlife. The economic boost from the program reduces pressure on the landscape by reducing the need for farming and charcoal burning, thereby freeing more space for wildlife, like the kob. 

Projects

Will you show the kob your support?

Human activities are decimating kob populations. With your help, AWF can continue to work on critical projects like protecting wildlife corridors and creating sustainable livelihood alternatives. Donate for a cause that will help with wildlife conservation and ensure the kob does not become an endangered species.  

  • Land for Livestock
    Balancing the land needs of farmers, herders, and wildlife

    Livestock is a vital livelihood for people in West Africa. So is farming.

    As competition over land and natural resources grows, pressure on protected areas and...

    Read more
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