The bushbuck relies on forest
coverage for shelter and food

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Bushbuck

Conservation Status:

Least Threatened

  • Native to 40 African countries
  • Population of 1.3 million estimated
  • Horns begin to grow at 10 months old

Quick Facts

Scientific name

Tragelaphus scriptus

Weight

25 to 80 kilograms (55 to 180 pounds)

Size

.5 to 1 meter tall (25 to 40 inches)

Life span

About 15 years in captivity. No data for in the wild.

Habitat

Wherever there is adequate cover — typically found in forest edges or brushy cover near rivers and streams.

Diet

Herbivorous

Gestation

About 6 months

Predators

Humans and any large carnivore, mostly leopards

Habitat

Where do bushbucks live?

They are forest-edge antelopes. They live in various habitats, including rain forests, montane forests, forest-savanna mosaics, and bush savannas.

Tags: Bushbuck, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kazungula, Maasai Steppe, Regional Parc W, East Africa, Southern Africa View Africa | Habitat

Physical Characteristics

What is a bushbuck?

They are antelopes with geometrically shaped white patches or spots on the most mobile parts of the body — the ears, chin, tail, legs, and neck. Males have horns, which are between 10 and 20 inches long and grow straight back. At 10 months, young males sprout horns that are strongly twisted and at maturity form the first loop of a spiral.

Behavior & Diet

If water is scarce, bushbucks can survive on dew.

They need some water but can subsist on dew if necessary. Foods vary in different habitats, with leguminous herbs and shrubs making up most of the diet. They may also eat grass, fallen fruit, acacia pods, tubers, bark, and flowers.

They do not commit to relationships.

They are the least social of the African antelopes and are generally solitary. Most group associations, except for a female and her latest young, are very temporary and only last a few hours or days. These antelopes have small home ranges, which may overlap with those of other bushbucks. Even so, there still is not much contact, as adult individuals prefer to stay by themselves in their separate areas. Mature males usually go out of their way to avoid contact with each other. They are also not territorial but will defend an area inhabited by a female in heat.

Females go to great lengths to hide their young.

After giving birth, the mother cleans and hides the newborn calf. When she visits and suckles it, she eats its dung, so no scent remains to attract predators. The young calf does not accompany its mother for long periods during the day until it is about four months old. A female and her calf often play together, running in circles chasing each other.

They are not confrontational.

Usually most active during early morning and part of the night, bushbucks become almost entirely nocturnal in areas where they are apt to be distributed frequently during the day. When alarmed, individuals react in a variety of ways. If they are in the forest or thick bush, then they may freeze in one position and remain very still, allowing their coloring to camouflage them. Sometimes they will sink to the ground and lie flat, or they may bound away, making a series of hoarse barks. When surprised in the open, they sometimes stand still or slowly walk to the nearest cover.

Gallery
  • Bushbuck AWF
  • Bushbuck AWF
  • Bushbuck Daryl and Sharna Balfour
  • Bushbuck Cardo Kleberg
Challenges

Habitat loss is the bushbuck’s biggest threat.

Their living space is decreasing as human populations grow and expand, resulting in habitat loss from the unsustainable growth of agriculture, settlements, and roads.

Humans hunt them for their hides.

While bushbucks are able to coexist with human habitation to a greater extent than many other species, some African tribes continue to hunt them for its skin, which makes leather that is supple, thin, and the hair sheds easily. Heavy hunting pressure has enabled the bushbuck from persisting over its former, historic range. In some areas, bushbuck meat is significantly lower in price resulting in it being the most commonly purchased bushmeat. They are also viewed as a pest species in some areas because of their tendency to damage people’s gardens.

Solutions

Our solutions to protecting the bushbuck:

  • Develop conservation tourism.

    African Wildlife Foundation brings together communities and private investors to construct conservation tourism lodges, like The Sanctuary at Ole Lentille, in Kenya. The lodge provides sustainable income for the community and the 20,000-acre conservancy is a safe home to a variety of wildlife.

  • Create more protected spaces.

    AWF works with governments and villages to designate wildlife corridors — large swaths of land that bushbucks use to roam freely and safely from one park, or country, to another. Wildlife corridors link protected areas and allow wildlife to follow rains or travel to their calving grounds.

Projects

Will you show the bushbuck your support?

With your help, AWF can work on critical initiatives that provide safe spaces for the bushbuck to live, like setting aside land for wildlife corridors and developing conservation tourism. Donate for a cause that will help with wildlife conservation and keep this species from becoming endangered.

  • Land for Livestock Christina Van Winkle
    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
    All Projects

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