Kobus megaceros 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Kobus megaceros (Fitzinger, 1855)
Common Name(s):
English Nile Lechwe

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2acd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-11-07
Assessor(s): IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M.
Nile Lechwe is listed as Endangered under criterion A due to an inferred population decline of more than 50% over that last 15 years (three generations). This decline is due to poaching, large-scale slaughter by armed groups (especially from the upsurge in military activity in the Sudd region since late 2013), competition with domestic livestock and habitat degradation caused by cattle grazing in the dry season.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Nile Lechwe is found only in South Sudan and Ethiopia. The largest part of its range occurs in the Sudd swamps along the Bahr-el-Ghazal (White Nile) and Sobat rivers. There is a smaller population in the Machar marshes near the Ethiopian border, extending marginally into Gambella National Park (N.P.) in south-west Ethiopia, where its survival is highly precarious because of expanding human activities (Hillman and Fryxell 1988, East 1999, Falchetti and Kingdon 2013). An aerial survey of the Sudd in the 2007 dry season recorded Nile Lechwe widely along the White Nile and Sobat rivers (Fay et al. 2007).
Countries occurrence:
Ethiopia; South Sudan
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Aerial surveys of the Sudd region conducted in the early and late dry season of the Jonglei area of South Sudan in 1980 yielded estimated counts of ca 12,000 and ca 32,000 animals, respectively. Most animals were concentrated within the swamps on the west bank of the Nile (Mefit-Babtie 1983). Probably less than 1,000 animals were present in Machar-Gambella (Hillman and Fryxell 1988). An aerial survey carried out by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in the early dry season in southern Sudan in 2007 yielded an estimate of 4,291 animals, a mean density of 0.06/km² and identified the Zeraf Game Reserve as the most important protected area for this species (Fay et al. 2007). A resumption of fighting since December 2013 has led to large numbers of antelopes and other species being slaughtered for meat to feed the combatants on all sides.

In November 2009, one herd >100 was seen on an aerial recce and 34 during an aerial survey of Gambella; none were seen on the dry season survey 2010 (Trans Frontier Conservation Initiative (TFCI) Task Force 2010).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Nile Lechwe is confined to seasonally flooded swamps and grasslands within the Sudd and Machar-Gambella wetlands of South Sudan and south-western Ethiopia. They are almost always on the edge of deeper swamps where the water is shallow (between 10 and 40 cm deep; Mefit-Babtie 1983).
Generation Length (years):5.1

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Nile Lechwe are hunted for meat.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The wildlife of the Sudd wetlands has been severely affected by civil war, the displacement and resettlement of human populations, proliferation of firearms, and increased hunting for meat (Falchetti and Kingdon 2013). Nile Lechwe are likely to be very strongly constrained by large numbers of cattle that penetrate deep into the Sudd during the dry season and they are commonly very close to dense herds of cattle during the day, but always in water that is too deep for the latter to graze in (Falchetti and Kingdon 2013).

Fighting in the region has resumed and in a press release on 3rd March 2016, WCS reported an alarming expansion of illegal exploitation and trafficking of wildlife, with all sides in South Sudan's ongoing civil war slaughtering elephants for their ivory and using automatic weapons to kill large numbers of antelopes and giraffes for meat in order to feed the tens of thousands of soldiers and rebels who have been fighting since December 2013.

Plans to resuscitate the construction of the Jonglei canal (intended to increase the flow of water to Egypt) could result in a dramatic deterioration of the Nile Lechwe's status (East 1999). Proposals to introduce irrigation and exploit oil reserves in the Sudd (Fay et al. 2007), could also have serious implications for Nile Lechwe if realized.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: In South Sudan, populations of Nile Lechwe occur in three nominal protected areas: Zeraf Game Resereve, extending over 9,700 km² along the Bahr-el-Zeraf; Fanyikang, over 480 km², north of Bahr-el-Gazal, which separates them from the Zeraf Reserve; and Shambe, over 620 km², along Bahr-el-Gebel. However, Nile Lechwe move in and out of these nominally protected areas and most occur in areas that are shared seasonally with huge herds of cattle. In Ethiopia, they occur marginally in Gambella N.P.

Falchetti (1998) outlined priorities for both in situ and ex situ conservation of this species. There is an increasing population of Nile Lechwe held in captivity (Falchetti 1998) though the captive population is based on a small number of founders.

Classifications [top]

4. Grassland -> 4.6. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability:Suitable season:resident major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:No
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:No
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:Unknown
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.1. Nomadic grazing
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.3. Indirect species effects -> 2.3.2. Competition

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.2. War, civil unrest & military exercises
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Causing/Could cause fluctuations ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.2. Dams & water management/use -> 7.2.8. Abstraction of ground water (unknown use)
♦ timing:Future ♦ scope:Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity:Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.2. Harvest level trends

Bibliography [top]

East, R. (compiler). 1999. African Antelope Database 1998. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Falchetti, E. 1998. General issues in the conservation biology of Nile Lechwe (Kobus megaceros) and preliminary guidelines for an action plan. Part 2. IUCN/SSC Antelope Specialist Group Newsletter 17(1): 4-10.

Falchetti, E. and Kingdon, J. 2013. Kobus megaceros. In: J. S. Kingdon and M. Hoffmann (eds), The Mammals of Africa. VI. Pigs, Hippopotamuses, Chevrotain, Giraffes, Deer, and Bovids, pp. 455-460. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK.

Fay, M., Elkan, P., Marjan, M. and Grossman, F. 2007. Aerial Surveys of Wildlife, Livestock, and Human Activity in and around Existing and Proposed Protected Areas of Southern Sudan, Dry Season 2007. WCS – Southern Sudan Technical Report.

Hillman, J.C. and Fryxell, J.M. 1988. Chapter 3: Sudan. In: R. East (ed.), Antelopes. Global Surrey and Regional Action Plans. Part 1. East and North Africa, pp. 5-16. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-2. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 14 September 2017).

Mefit-Babtie, S.R.L. 1983. Development studies in the Jonglei Canal area. Final report. Vol. 5. - wildlife studies. Mefit-Babtie SRL, Glasgow, Rome 81 Khartoum, and Executive Organ of the National Council for Development of the Jonglei Canal Area, Khartoum, Sudan.

Trans Frontier Conservation Initiative (TFCI) Task Force. 2010. Aerial Survey Report: Gambella Reconnaissance 2009 and Census 2010. Trans Frontier Conservation Initiative (TFCI) Task Force, Addis Ababa.

Citation: IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2017. Kobus megaceros. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T11034A50189177. . Downloaded on 23 June 2018.
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